Mien Ga (Chicken Glass Noodle Soup) is one of the traditional Vietnamese dishes served during Lunar New Year celebration. Since the soup is so tasty and easy to make, you can enjoy it all year round.
The most well-known Vietnamese chicken noodle soup is undoubtedly pho ga. I have also shared a version using vermicelli noodles (bun ga) a while ago. And today I’m going to share another chicken noodle soup called miến gà, featuring complex savory broth and slippery glass noodles.
Both pho ga and mien ga are delicious and popular in Vietnam, but it is the latter that is often included in traditional feasts or banquets of Viet people. In the traditional banquets, there is always a poached chicken dish, and the poaching liquid will often be utilized to make mien ga.
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What I’m sharing today is an authentic Northern Vietnamese mien ga recipe. You will need the following ingredients:
- chicken: I like to use a whole chicken, but you can also use chicken parts with bones.
- glass noodles (also called cellophane noodles and mung bean thread noodles): you can read more about this translucent noodle in my crab and glass noodles stir-fry recipe.
- dried wood-ear mushrooms: Northern-style mien ga contains these, which add a crunchy texture. It is less common to see them in Southern-style mien ga. You can find them at Asian grocery stores.
- dried shiitake mushrooms: you just need to use a few of these since we don’t want their earthiness to overwhelm the entire dish.
- other ingredients include ginger, shallot, scallion, cilantro, Vietnamese coriander, and seasonings.
There is another variation of this dish, which includes dried bamboo shoots. This variation is also tasty, so I will include instructions on making it in the recipe card in case you can find some dried bamboo shoots at your Asian grocery stores.
Here’s a photo of the version with bamboo shoots:
Cooking this mien ga recipe is pretty straightforward and has many similar steps as those in my other chicken noodle soup recipes. However, there are a few key steps you need to pay attention to:
(1) Parboil the chicken first to get rid of any unpleasant poultry smell. Once you’ve done this step, there will not be a lot of foam to skim off when simmering the chicken. After that, poach the chicken until the meat is just cooked through. Shred the meat and put the bones back to the stock. Don’t overcook the meat, or it will be tasteless.
(2) You will need to soak the dried wood-ear mushrooms in water to rehydrate them, then julienne. Don’t drop them into the broth right away, but cook them first, which does make a difference.
Here’s how: sauté minced shallots until very fragrant and then add the julienned mushrooms with some fish sauce. First of all, this step will add flavors to the mushrooms. Secondly, before serving, we will add the mushrooms to the broth, and the aroma from sautéed shallots will make the broth more complex.
(3) You will also need to soak the glass noodles for 20-30 minutes. After that, the traditional method will be adding the soaked noodles directly to the broth briefly. The noodles will absorb some of the broth, becoming softer and more flavorful.
For the best textures, don’t overcook the noodles. We like them to be soft with a pleasant chew. It’s better to slightly undercook the noodles than overcooking them.
(4) It is best to eat mien ga right away after finishing cooking. There will be a point where the noodles’ textures become unpleasant because the longer they sit in the hot broth, the more broth they will absorb and the more they will expand.
More recipes to serve during Lunar New Year celebration of at traditional Vietnamese feasts:
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Chicken Glass Noodle Soup (Mien Ga)
- 0.5 oz dried wood-ear mushrooms
- 3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 whole chicken (about 3 lbs or 1.4kg)
- 9 cups water (plus more to parboil the chicken)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3-4 medium whole shallots, peeled
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
- 3-4 scallion stalks, white parts separated and green parts thinly sliced
- 6 oz glass noodles
- cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (to taste)
- black pepper
- Vietnamese coriander, chopped
- cilantro, chopped
- Soak dried wood-ear mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 5-7 minutes or until they are fully rehydrated. Julienned wood-ear mushrooms (we will have about 1 cup). Remove the stems of shiitake mushrooms and keep the mushrooms whole.
- Parboil chicken in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Then take it out and discard the blanching liquid.
- In a clean pot, bring 9 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt, whole shallots, ginger and the white parts of scallion to the pot. Then add the chicken and let the water come back to a boil. Skim off any foam then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with the lid slightly askew and poach the chicken for about 20 minutes or until the meat is just cooked through.
- Transfer the cooked chicken to an ice bath. Once it is cool enough to handle, separate the meat and the bones. Put the bones together with the shiitake mushrooms in the stock pot and continue to simmer the broth for at least another 45-60 minutes. If you have time, simmer the bones for 90-120 minutes for stronger flavors. Shred the meat.
- 30 minutes before the broth is ready or when you want to serve the dish, soak glass noodles in room temparature water for 20-30 minutes.
- Place a skillet over medium heat and heat some oil. Once the oil is hot, add 1 tablespoon minced shallots and cook for about 30 seconds or until very fragrant. Add julienned wood-ear mushrooms and stir and cook briefly. Add 1½ teaspoon fish sauce and a generous amount of black pepper. Stir thoroughly and sauté until the flavors are fused. Set aside.
- Once the broth is ready, take the bones out of the broth and increase the heat to bring it to a more rapid simmer. If too much liquid has evaporated, you can add back some hot water to the broth. Add sautéed wood-ear mushrooms first, then add the noodles to the pot. Cook very briefly (about 30-45 seconds for me but it will depend on the noodles). It is better to slightly undercook the noodles than overcooking it. Taste the broth and adjust seasonings to your likings. Then transfer the noodles to serving bowls.
- Place shredded chicken over the noodles. Scatter sliced scallion, cilantro, Vietnamese coriander and sprinkle black pepper on top. Ladle hot broth as well as wood-ear mushroom strips into serving bowls. Serve immediately.
- Use about 8-10 oz of soaked dried bamboo shoots for 4 people. By “soaked dried bamboo shoots”, I mean dried bamboo shoots that are packed in liquid. If you only have dried sheets of bamboo shoots, you will need to soak them in water for a few days (and change the water a few times).
- Boil bamboo shoots in a lot of boiling water for 25-30 minutes to remove strong smell and taste. Then discard the liquid and rinse the bamboo shoots. Tear them into strips.
- Place a pan over medium heat. Add some oil and once the oil is hot, add minced shallots (about 1 tablespoon). Sauté until shallots are fragrant. Add shredded bamboo shoots to the pan, give it a quick stir. Add fish sauce (about 1 teaspoon or to taste) and stir and cook for several minutes. Sprinkle some black pepper on top.
- Add the sautéed bamboo shoots together with the wood-ear mushrooms as in Step 7 in the Instructions section above before serving.