Vietnamese Duck Noodle Soup (Mi Vit Tiem) features slippery noodles, fall-off-the-bone duck legs, and a dark broth. Learn the easy method to cook this complexed dish at home in this post.
What is Vietnamese Duck Noodle Soup (Mi Vit Tiem)?
In Saigon, it is not difficult to find a diner with mi vit tiem on the menu. I heard that this duck noodle soup was created by people with Chinese origin in the South of Vietnam. A bowl of mi vit tiem often consists of yellow noodles in a dark broth and a fall-off-the-bone duck leg, which you can easily use chopsticks to pick out the meat.
What sets this duck noodle soup apart from other noodle soups in Vietnamese cuisine is its dark broth and its strong flavors. The soup contains some herbal ingredients, so it is also considered healthy.
Southern Vietnamese people often go out to eat this dish due to the amount of ingredients and time needed to cook the dish at home. My Saigonese chef friend shared with me an easy way to cook mi vit tiem at home that retains the authentic flavors while being more suitable for a home kitchen. I’m very happy to share it with you today.
The first ingredient you will need is duck legs. The general rule is one whole duck leg for each bowl of noodles. If you also have duck bones or duck necks, that’s even better. Add them to the broth for a stronger duck flavor.
Though the list of other ingredients is quite long, please don’t feel discouraged. Most of them can be purchased at regular grocery stores or Amazon, and just a few require a trip to Asian grocery stores.
- seasonings: soy sauce (I use Kikkoman), oyster sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee) and dark soy sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee)
- spices and aromatics: garlic, shallots, onion, ginger, five-spice powder, dried shiitake mushrooms, star anises, black cardamom pod, coriander seeds (or fresh cilantro roots or stems)
- herbal medicine ingredients: red dates, goji berries
So you can see that this duck noodle soup requires way more ingredients than, for example, Vietnamese chicken noodle soup (pho ga). The full restaurant version even requires some harder-to-find ingredients such as dried tangerine peel and processed rehmannia root.
For noodles, you can use yellow wheat-based noodles you like such as egg noodles or ramen-style noodles. Rice noodles will not work in this dish.
How to Cook Vietnamese Duck Noodle Soup (Mi Vit Tiem) at Home
In restaurants, the duck legs will be fried, then simmered in the broth and some places even fry the legs again before serving. The homemade method to cook this Vietnamese duck noodle soup is quite straightforward and less messy.
First, we need to prep the duck legs. Whenever cooking duck at home, Vietnamese cooks like to rub the meat with a lot of crushed ginger and some rice wine to get rid of any gamy odors. After that, we marinate the duck and broil until golden.
- Marinate the duck legs
- Shake off bits of aromatics in the marinade and broil the duck legs
- Broil the duck legs until the skin is blistered, deep brown with some darkened spots
Once the duck skin is blistered and golden/darkened, we will simmer the duck legs with all other ingredients to make the broth. The duck legs should be simmered until very tender and easy to pick out from the bone. It takes me about 80-90 minutes to cook the broth.
Simmering the duck legs will render out quite a lot of fat, and I usually try to skim off most of the duck fat from the broth while cooking. We don’t need all that fat, just enough to retain flavors.
There’s an extra step some places in Saigon do after simmering. They would remove the duck legs from the broth, pat dry and fry quickly to make the skin crispy. This step is definitely not a must.
It is common to add some blanched green vegetables such as baby bok choy to the noodle bowls when you serve them. You can enjoy it as lunch or light dinner. Detailed measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Vietnamese Duck Noodle Soup (Mi Vit Tiem)
For the Duck Legs
- 4 duck legs (about 2.25 lbs or 1kg)
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, crushed
- 1/4 cup rice wine (or sake, white wine)
- 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon crushed and roughly chopped shallots
- 1/2 tablespoon crushed and roughly chopped garlic
- 6 cups water (see Notes)
- 8 red dates
- 1 1/2 tablespoons goji berries
- 8 dried shiitake mushrooms (about 0.35oz or 10g)
- 4 star anises
- 1 black cardamom pod, crushed open
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (or 2-3 fresh cilantro roots or stems)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 shallots, peeled
- 1 thumb-sized pieces of ginger
- 1 onion, peeled
- 1-2 teaspoons rock sugar (to taste, or see Notes for subsitute)
- yellow wheat-based noodles (such as egg noodles or ramen-style noodles)
- blanched green vegetables (such as baby bok choy)
- thinly-sliced scallions
- thinly-sliced cilantro
Prepare the Duck Legs
- In a mixing bowl, add duck legs and massage with crushed ginger and rice wine. This helps eliminate any gamy odors. Rinse and pat dry. Then marinate the duck legs with five-spice powder, dark soy sauce, crushed shallots and garlic for 20-30 minutes.
- Set the oven broiler to high. Shake off bits of aromatics in the marinade from the duck legs, and place the duck legs skin side up on a wired rack over a lined baking tray. Broil until the skin is blistered and golden with some darkened spots (about 10 minutes).
Cooking the Noodle Soup
- While marinating the duck legs, soak the red dates, goji berries and dried shiitake mushrooms in room temperature water for about 10 minutes. Rinse and drain.
- After the duck legs have been broiled, add water, red dates, goji berries, dried shiitake mushrooms, star anises, black cardamom pod, coriander seeds, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic cloves, shallots and onion to a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring it to a boil, add the duck legs, and then lower to a simmer.
- Simmer the broth with the lid askew until the duck meat is tender and can be easily picked out with chopsticks (about 80-90 minutes). Skim off foams while simmering. If the broth has too much duck fat, skim off most of it, otherwise the dish might be too greasy.
- Taste the broth and add rock sugar to taste, and adjust seasonings to your likings. If too much liquid is lost during cooking, you can add back a splash of water.
- Add noodles and blanched green vegetables to serving bowls. Place a duck leg in each bowl, sprinkle some scallions and cilantro on top. Then ladle the hot soup into the bowls and serve immediately.