Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Vietnamese beef noodle soup (Pho)

This past weekend was the Lunar New Year. I decided to go to Chinatown to do some grocery shopping, because I was planning to play with a pack of glutinous rice I bought a few months back and needed a bamboo steamer. Needless to say that I came back home with a giant Asian food haul, with a huge smile on my face when realized I had everything I needed to make Beef Pho (almost) from scratch.

I discovered Pho a few years ago when I moved to the US, as Vietnamese food is readily available where I am right now. I fell in love, and am always on the lookout for the best Pho. Chicken, beef, seafood or veggie. Me likey.

I used my slow cooker to prepare the broth and am not claiming absolute authenticity, but here's my adapted recipe.

INGREDIENTS (4 people):
for the broth:
- about 1 lb beef shank
- 3 shallots, peeled
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
- 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and bruised
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp fennel seeds (not pictured - I decided to add them mid-recipe)
- 1 tsp coriander seeds (not pictured - I decided to add them mid recipe)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 10 cups beef stock

for serving:
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- thin sliced slow-cooked beef shank (reserved from the stock)
- paper-thin sliced raw beef (a lean cut is preferable, but I just used a little bit of shank meat before cooking the stock)
- rice sticks noodles (banh pho)
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced paper-thin (using a mandolin)
- lime quarters
- fresh cilantro
- fresh thai basil
- daikon sprouts (the normal recipe calls for bean sprouts, but I just really dislike them, so I picked another type of sprouts)

start with the broth (on the day before if using a slow cooker, or at least 3-4 hours before if using the stove-top):
- brown the onion, shallots and ginger under a broiler, or on an open flame, until charred

- parboil the beef shank 10 min in boiling water, skimming the grayish foam (this step is optional, but will ensure a visually pleasing clear broth instead of a cloudy broth)

- in the crock-pot (or stock pot), place the spices, charred aromatics, stock and cook on LOW for 8 hours (or if on the stove-top, on the lowest setting before it turns off, for 3-4 hours, or until the beef is fork-tender and almost falls apart)

about 1 hour before serving:
- strain the beef stock through a fine sieve, reserve the meat and discard the other solids

- once the meat is cooled, slice thin and reserve until ready to serve

- cook the rice noodles for 5 minutes in boiling water, or until desired chewiness, rinse in cold water, drain and reserve

- bring the clear beef stock back to a boil and season with the fish sauce

for serving:
- place a bunch of noodles, sliced cooked and raw beef in a large serving bowl and ladle piping hot broth on top (this will instantly cook the raw meat)

- add the various toppings to your liking and enjoy with a good splash of rooster sauce (Sriracha)
- Enjoy!!!

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