So, I was hungry and didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. I also didn’t want to part with any money. I looked in the freezer and found — fish balls. I’d forgotten I had those! In the subsequent flurry of activity, I tossed the fish balls, frozen green beans, leftover cilantro, leftover chopped onions, some oyster sauce, dried: garlic onions and vegetable flakes, all into a big cast iron pot with a lot of water. I added a little chicken bouillon powder. While that was coming to a boil, I found a couple of packages of phò (Vietnamese Top Ramen type yummy rice noodle) and dumped them in, too. By the time it boiled, I had this rich delicious soup that brought back so many wonderful memories.
If you haven’t had fish balls, you should try them. Generally you have to get them in an oriental store. If you can get them fresh, even better. Mine were frozen. Don’t ask what is in them. Fish. It is good. Think meatballs only with fish. Your doctor will love you. (Except for the high quantity of sodium I’ve got in this batch, but hey…I was craving salt.) I was reminded of a dear friend from India who told me off. "You Americans. You waste the best part of the food!" So, I tossed in the thick stems of my cilantro — rich in flavor! The stems are even more flavorful than the pretty leaves, so always save the stems for your soup pot.
Rice noodles cook so fast, you can’t get faster food than this. Back in the days before phò shops were popular, a friend used to take me to a restaurant where no one spoke English to treat me to this special soup. It was inexpensive, fast, and so delicious. I would drive for miles and endure complete language confusion to get this treat. I now have a big inexpensive pot of it all to myself (until the boys discover it!). Yum.They would often serve it with a large shrimp or even a tempura shrimp or two on top. Yum.
This recipe isn’t authentic. It is based on a traditional recipe and if I *had* basil and lime, they would definitely be in the pot as well. One of the things I love about learning cultural foods is that I can blend their techniques with things I’m more used to, and come out with something uniquely mine. You can use any meat or vegetables. I’ve seen it with thinly sliced chicken and beef — tossed in raw because it cooks so fast in the boiling broth.