*There's a video tutorial at the end of this post. I was silent last week on the blog because we went to Bangkok for a mini vacation. We had a lot of fun there just strolling around the city, shopping for cute, inexpensive hand-made T shirts, and eating mango sticky rice, a popular Thai dessert, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and after dinner snack. We came back just in time for rainy season here in Hoi An. Our roads are filled with big puddles which are as wide and deep as little ponds. I love working by my big window through which I can see water buffalos and green rice paddies white-washed by a curtain of rain. The days are calm and quiet with falling raindrops being the only noise. I spend most of my day in my small, bright office/kitchen filled with the scent of pomelo blossom oil essence, music from a tiny speaker, the sound of rain and big windows. That’s my world in rainy season - a small, simple, happy and peaceful one. This rib noodle soup is one among several Northern Vietnamese dishes that are perfect for both the steaming summer heat and chilly and rainy weather. It's quite labor-intensive, but it's worth it. The broth is so rich from simmered bones and mashed tomatoes; the ribs are tender and well-marinated, and crunchy taro shoots and fragrant herbs are the "cherry on top". Watch the video below to see how to make this dish for yourself! Chúc ngon miệng! RIB NOODLE SOUP WITH TARO SHOOTS Serves 3-4 as a main course INGREDIENTS Ribs: 1.5 kg (about 3 pounds), chopped into 3-4 cm (2 inches) long pieces Tomatoes: 700 grams (1.5 pounds), cut into wedges Taro shoots: 700 grams (1.5 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced diagonally. You can watch this Sweet and Sour Seafood soup video to see how I peel and slice taro shoots. Shallots: 5 small, minced Scallion: 5 sprigs, cut into 2 cm or 1 inch long pieces, separate the white part and the green part. Culantro / saw-leaf herbs: 5 sprigs (optional, can be replaced with basils), roughly chopped Tumeric powder: 1 tablespoon Fish sauce, salt, pepper: to taste Rice vermicelli: 300 grams (if you use the dry kind , cook it in boiling water as instructed) Cooking oil: 6 tablespoons PROCEDURE: Prepare the taro shoots: *You should wear plastic gloves when preparing taro shoots because they can make your hands really itchy. In a colander, add 1 tablespoon salt to taro shoot slices. Mix well and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse well and squeeze the water out of the taro shoots. This step makes them more crunchy. Prepare the tomatoes: Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons cooking oil. Add the white part of scallion and stir until fragrant. Add tomato wedges, 1 tablespoon salt and stir until mashed (about 5 minutes). Prepare the ribs: In a pot, add a tablespoon salt and a generous amount of water (enough to cover ribs). Bring to a boil. Add ribs. Bring to a boil again. Strain the ribs and pour the water out. Wash the ribs and the pot carefully. In the same pot, add 1 litre of water. Add ribs. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Remove ribs from the pot and place them in a mixing bowl. Add fish sauce, pepper, tumeric powder, mix well and let sit for 15 minutes. Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons cooking oil. Add minced shallot and stir until fragrant. Add ribs and stir for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Prepare the broth: Bring the rib broth to a boil. Add mashed tomatoes and fish sauce or salt to taste. Add taro shoots. Bring to a boil again and remove from heat before serving. To serve, in a big bowl, add vermicelli, ribs, broth and chopped scallions and herbs. Serve warm with fish sauce and chili on the side. Chúc ngon miệng!