Soups are very commonly served alongside rice dishes in Vietnam, as they serve as a palate cleanser between the different flavours on the plate.
This soup is a perfect accompaniment to any of the rice dishes in this chapter. It’s a light and delicate broth with sweetness from the melon and prawns.
- 4 large green prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
- 2 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra to taste
- 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar, plus extra to taste
- 1 tsp ground white pepper, plus extra to garnish
- 2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced, plus extra to garnish
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) hairy (fuzzy) melon, peeled and cut into 2 cm (¾ in) cubes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Using a knife, lightly smash the prawns, then roughly chop them into chunks. Transfer to a bowl and add the fish sauce, sugar and pepper. Add the spring onion and mix thoroughly.
2. Bring 1.5 litres (1½ qts) water to the boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the melon and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Gently add the prawn mixture to the soup and season to taste with fish sauce and sugar. Simmer for a further 15 minutes.
4. Divide the soup among bowls, making sure everyone gets an even amount of melon and prawn, and garnish with extra spring onion and pepper. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99