Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pho recipe and some nostalgic ramblings

One of the things I miss about working in the food industry is the fantastic staff meals the Vietnamese ladies would cook up. I loved when there was a big family dinner over the weekend and on Monday they would bring me in things to try. Some I liked better than others. The chicken curry was always so good but the odd flavoured gelatin "cake" is something I don't ever need to try again.
I got this recipe from one of the gals and I have only made it once before. It turned out quite nice but somehow not quite the same as when she would bring it in for me.

Beef Pho
4 servings

small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
fresh hot chili peppers(the little red or green ones), cut in to rings (2-3 but more or less depending on your taste)
1 small onion, sliced thinly into rings
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 lemon, juice only
8 oz of sirloin steak (raw and thinly sliced) *
8 oz pack of rice noodles
4 tbsp of fish sauce
8 cups of beef stock, simmered with a small handful of cloves, star anise, slice of fresh ginger and a cinnamon stick **
Toppings to serve on the side:
Hoisin sauce
Fresh basil
Lemon or Lime wedges
Bean sprouts
Soak the sliced onion and garlic in the lemon juice at the same time as soaking the rice noodles in warm water, 20 mins each. After the noodles have soaked, finish cooking them in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Don't let them get mushy!
Split the following between your 4 bowls. Layer the noodles, onions and garlic, chilies and then the sliced, raw beef. Pour the boiling hot stock over top and then add a table spoon of fish sauce to each bowl. Sprinkle with the cilantro and green onions. Serve immediately!

On a side plate serve lemon or lime wedges, bean sprouts, extra chilies and basil for people to add as they like. In restaurants when I have ordered this I have had shredded lettuce, sliced cucumbers, broccoli or even fresh tomato added to the bowl. I think you can be creative when adding the garnishes and add veggies that are in season.

*using a meat slicer is ideal but assuming we don't have one at home you can ask your butcher to slice it thinly for you or try your hand using a super sharp knife. It is easiest to slice it if the meat is semi-frozen.

**last time I was in T&T (local Asian supermarket) I found a paste that you just whisk in to hot water. It has all the seasonings and flavourings in it. I bought some and it was pretty good. There were other Vietnamese people buying it so I assumed it was reputable.

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