Vietnamese Duck and Egg Noodle Soup (Mi Vit Tiem Recipe)

  • Preparation: 45 mins
  • Cooking: 20 mins
  • Skill level: Medium
  • Servings: 6

Description Vietnamese Duck and Egg Noodle Soup Recipe (Mì Vịt Tiềm)

Vietnamese Duck and Egg Noodle Soup (Mi Vit Tiem) borrows heavily from Vietnam’s northern neighbor. Mì vịt tiềm is one of my mom’s favorites, and she is partial to a version made by her friend Mrs. Tan, who, along with her husband, once owned a Chinese barbecue restaurant in San Diego.
Unlike phở, which most Viet home cooks know how to make, mì vịt tiềm is usually left to the pros. The trick is cooking the duck legs until tender (but not mushy), mahogany brown, and deeply seasoned. The traditional approach is to marinate them, flash fry them for color, and then simmer them in the broth. Some cooks even refry the legs right before serving. When my mom finally asked Mrs. Tan for her secret, she divulged that she roasted and then steamed the duck legs, instead of frying and simmering them. Her method evenly colors the duck, seals in the seasonings, preserves the integrity of the meat, and easily removes much of the fat.
I developed this recipe using Mrs. Tan’s method. Traditionally, the duck leg is served whole on the side for diners to attack with chopsticks and spoons. Since that is hard to do, even for a native chopstick user like me, I slice the meat and serve it in the bowl.


  • 6 duck legs, trimmed of excess fat and skin and backbone removed, if necessary (see Note)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons dark (black) soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger, pressed through a fine-mesh sieve to extract 1 teaspoon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) Noodle Soup Broth, with 1 star anise (8 robust points total) added during simmering
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted, stemmed, and quartered
  • 1 pound thin Chinese egg noodles, cooked in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes until tender yet chewy, drained, and flushed with cold water
  • ¾ pound baby bok choy, sliced on the diagonal into ¾-inch-wide pieces, cooked in boiling water for 1 minute, or until tender and bright green, and drained
  • Sesame oil
  • 2 or 3 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, leafy tops only
  • White pepper
  • Mellow Chile-Garlic Mix, optional
  • 1½ cups Everyday Daikon and Carrot Pickle, optional

Method Vietnamese Duck and Egg Noodle Soup Recipe (Mì Vịt Tiềm)

1, Use a toothpick or skewer to poke about 12 holes all over each duck leg. To make the marinade, mix together the five-spice powder, salt, sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, wine, ginger juice, and sesame oil in a bowl large enough to accommodate the duck legs. Add the duck legs and use your fingers to massage the marinade evenly into the legs, slipping some between the flesh and skin when possible. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours for the best flavor. Turn the legs 3 times during marination.
2, About 45 minutes before roasting, remove the duck legs from the refrigerator to bring them to room temperature. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place the legs, skin side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Add any leftover marinade to the broth. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 475°F.
3, Roast the duck for 18 to 20 minutes, or until sizzling and deep mahogany. Flip each leg over and roast for 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until the second side is browned. Transfer to a shallow bowl that will fit into your steamer tray and place the bowl in the steamer tray.
4, Fill the steamer pan halfway with water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Place the tray in the steamer, cover, and steam for about 45 minutes, or until tender and a knife easily pierces the thickest part of a leg.
5, When the legs are ready, transfer them to a plate. Use a spoon to skim off and discard the clear fat in the bowl and then add the dark cooking juices to the broth. (The duck legs may be cooked 2 days in advance, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
6, Pour the broth into a saucepan and add the mushrooms. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and then lower the heat to keep the broth hot. At the same time, fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil, for reheating the noodles.
7, Cut the duck meat off the bones, discarding the bones, and slice into bite-sized pieces. To reheat the noodles, place a portion on a large vertical-handle strainer (or mesh sieve) and dunk the noodles in the boiling water. After 5 to 10 seconds, pull the strainer from the water, letting the water drain back into the pot. Empty the noodles into a bowl and repeat with the remaining portions, while proceeding to assemble each bowl as the noodles are reheated and drained.
Position some bok choy to the side of each noodle mound, and then prominently display slices of duck on top. Garnish with a light drizzle of sesame oil, sprinkle with the scallion and cilantro, and add a pinch of white pepper.
8, Raise the heat on the broth and bring to a rolling boil. Do a final taste test, adding more salt, if necessary. Ladle about 2 cups broth into each bowl, distributing the hot liquid evenly to warm all the ingredients and including some mushroom wedges with each portion. Serve immediately with the chile-garlic mix and pickled vegetables for diners who want some chile and crunch.

Chef's Note

If a section of the backbone remains attached to a duck leg, use a boning knife to separate the backbone from the duck leg. At the hip joint, firmly bend the leg away from the backbone to pop the ball of the thighbone from the socket. Cut between the ball and socket to free the leg. Discard the backbone, freeze it, or add it to the simmering broth.

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