Canh Mong Toi (Vietnamese Spinach Soup)
I rarely cook Vietnamese food. It is usually cheaper to go to a restaurant and its a good excuse for me to visit my dad. However, some things (such as this) aren’t available at Vietnamese restaurants and the reality is that my dad won’t be around forever. I figured its time to figure things out for myself while I still have my dad and aunts around to advise me.
My favorite soup is Canh Rau Day but it involves a level of sliminess that many people don’t appreciate (similar to okra). I wanted to make something both the boy and I would eat. Canh Mong Toi involves a type of Vietnamese spinach that isn’t slimy, which my mom cooked often for my family growing up.
The soup is very simple, fresh and light. Growing up, it was served with sides such as braised fish, salted eggs, fried fish, pickled eggplants, or braised pork belly. This soup certainly isn’t for everyone but its a comfort food for me and am happy that I’ve figured it out.
I served mine with some claypot braised fish and fried tofu. I’d never done claypot braised fried tofu before but will definitely do it again!
Canh Mong Toi
(From Simply Vietnamese, watching my mom growing up and consulting my aunt)
- 8 cups of water or seafood or chicken broth
- 2/3 cup of dried shrimp (fresh shrimp is good too)
- 1 bunch of washed and Mong Toi (chop every half inch or so)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp salt (omit if using broth)
- 1 ½ Tbsp shrimp paste (to taste)
- Soak dried shrimp in 1 cup of warm water bath for 20-30 minutes. Drain shrimp and save the liquid. Place shrimp into a food processor, pulse grind until the shrimp is broken up into small pieces.
- In a medium size pan, add 7 cups of liquid and the remaining liquid used to soak the shrimp. Bring to a boil.
- Add chopped onion, shrimp and salt to stock.
- Add cut Mong Toi to stock and bring to boil over medium high heat.
- Bring soup to boil for 1-2 minutes, when the Mong Toi is wilted.
- Stir in shrimp paste and adjust seasoning to taste.
Ladle soup over rice and serve with ca kho, thit kho, trung kho or ca gem.