This noodle soup dish is a specialty in Phú Quốc Island, a touristy island in southern Vietnam. The dish is originated from another shrimp noodle soup in Bình Định, a province in south-central Vietnam. When the Bình Định fishermen settled in Phúc Quốc Island, they adapt their homeland dish by replacing greasyback shrimps with seafood like squids, fishcakes and marine shrimps.
The Vietnamese name of this dish is “bún quậy“. Bún means “Vietnamese soft rice vermicelli”, a common type of noodle in Vietnamese cuisine, and “quậy” refers the the action of stirring quickly the ingredients during the preparation. First, the freshly-ground shrimp paste is spread at the bottom of the serving bowl. The hot broth is then poured into the bowl and get stirred quickly with chopsticks. So, actually the shrimp paste is being cooked during the quick-stirring process. Noodle threads are then added and finally, the sliced cooked seafood ingredients as toppings.
In quick-stirred noodle soup restaurants, the dipping sauce can be prepared by the diners themselves with available condiments such as salt, granule seasoning, sugar, black pepper, chili, kumquat (or calamansi)… at dining tables. Or, there will be a large bowl of pre-mixed salt.
Prepare shrimp paste and fish paste in 2 separate bowls. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of granule seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper together with 1/2 minced garlic and shallot mixture to each bowl. Use a spoon to spread the shrimp and fish paste evenly until the pastes absorb the spices.
Bring the pot of water to a boil and add the pork bones. Continuously skim off the foam to clear the water and then add pounded lemongrass into the broth. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon granule seasoning to taste. When the water boils again, add the squids into the broth for about 5 minutes and then take them out.
Prepare a bowl. Layer the bowl bottom with fish and shrimp paste with some finely chopped scallions and coriander. Quickly pour and stir the boiling broth and then cover the bowl with a plate or a pot cover to cook the ingredients. Add vermicelli, use chopsticks to roll the vermicelli into several rolls. Add squids in each serving bowl as toppings, and then pour the dipping sauce on top. Consume the soup while it's still hot.
The secrets to choosing fresh ingredients to make seafood noodle soup: For shrimps, you should choose the ones that are still alive, the shell of the shrimp should be shiny and smooth; the body should be slightly curved and the head must be firmly attached. Avoid choosing those with a rounded body and slime. For squids, use your fingers to press the flesh if, after releasing your fingers, the squid returns to its original shape, then it is fresh. And notice that those with bright, clear eyes are the fresh ones. For fish paste, if you have time, you should buy fresh fish and make the paste yourself, it will be more delicious.