4 lbs. pork ribs (cut into 2-3 inch pieces) or you can also use combination of ribs and bone....or chicken 2 cups of dried shiitake mushrooms (optional..can use any type of veggies)
....12oz container of pork paste (this is commonly found in your Asian Grocery–if frozen, defrost in the fridge the night before–this is commonly already pre-seasoned)...they sell it at the asian store 1 tbs pepper ...I use white pepper 2 tbs salt 2 T fish sauce 1 T of chicken powder 1 big piece of ginger 1 onion 1 package of vermicelli noodles 1 cha lua (pork sausage loaf) cut into thin pieces and also commonly found in Asian Groceries either wrapped in banana leaves or aluminum foil...u can get this at the asian store too...u can also put in tofu...bok choy ...etc... beansprouts cilantro, thinly chopped scallions, thinly chopped chili garlic sauce In large stock pot, place the pork ribs/bones with enough water to cover and bring to boil for about 5 minutes or so. The gunk will surface from the ribs. Empty the water and wash the ribs/bones with cold water. Also wash the pot to get the residue off the side or have a second pot with hot water ready. Place the cleaned ribs/bones into the pot and cover with about 4 qts of water or so. Bring to boiling again, occasionally skimming any left over residue, and turn heat to low and simmer.
In the meantime, soak shiitake mushrooms in separate bowls of warm water for about 15 min. Remove and squeeze out the water and coarsely chop. Mix this along with the black pepper into the pork paste (pork balls) and set aside in the fridge.
cut up the pork paste (pork balls) into little balls
Boil another pot of water to make the vermicelli noodles. Cut the cha lua, scallions, and cilantro and set aside.
After simmering the stock for about 1. 5 hrs, add the shitake mushrooms along with the water it was soaked in and continue on low heat for about another 30 minutes. Season broth with salt and/or fish sauce. Both the pork ribs and shitake mushrooms should be very tender. If you used pork bones, you can strain and discard.
When you’re ready to serve, bring the pot to boil again and use a wet spoon or wet hands to form small pork paste balls and cook in boiling broth–about 3-4 minutes or so. Ladle the soup with tender ribs, shiitake and pork paste balls over vermicelli noodles and serve with beansprouts and dab of chili garlic. ----u can squeeze in some lemon and put some hoisen sauce in it too...I also top with some dry onions ...my kids LOVE the pork balls so I used 2 package