Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vietnamese Comfort Food--Really Good Pho

Real good Pho!
Did I say Faux, Foe…no, it’s Fuh.. This is the ultimate Vietnamese comfort food—beef, broth and noodles, Viet style! The cool thing is that the beef is in the soup 2 ways---braised til tender but still a little chewy and raw!  You’ll see

Serves 4 with leftovers
2 onions, halved
4" thumb of ginger,
2 lbs of good beef bones, preferably shank and knuckle or neck
1 lb of beef  - chuck, brisket, rump, cut into large slices
6 quarts of water
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt or to taste
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbls turbindo sugar 4 (Sugar in the raw packets that you stole from the coffee shop)
Pho Spices [1 tbls white peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tbl coriander seeds, 1 tbl fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 1 cardamom pod, 6 whole cloves]
I use a tea infuser for all but the cinnamon stick

Cut onions in half. Leave ginger as is. This is a lot like making roasted peppers over a burner. It is much easier if you have a gas stove.
 Brush just a bit of vegetable or peanut  oil on the cut side of the onions (don't waste olive oil, it will just burn)  Either on an open flame or under the broiler cook high until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn over and continue to char. This should take a total of 10-15 minutes.  They should be back oall over. Allow to cool enough to handle. Using a damp towel, rub off most of the black char, leaving sweet roasted onions and ginger. Cut into 1 inch pieces ( rather large)

Next, fill large pot (12-qt capacity) with cool water. Boil water, and then add the bones, keeping the heat on high. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse the bones and rinse out the pot. Refill pot with bones and 6 qts of cool water. Bring to boil over high heat and lower to simmer. Using a ladle or a fine mesh strainer, remove any scum that rises to the top.

Add ginger, onion, spice packet, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the beef meat and set aside (you'll be eating this meat later in the bowls) Continue simmering for another 1 1/2 hours. Strain broth and return the broth to the pot. Taste broth and adjust seasoning - this is a crucial step. If the broth's flavor doesn't quite shine yet, add 2 teaspoons more of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a small hit of sugar. Climb the ladder to great Asian flavor. Keep doing this until the broth tastes perfect.

Whie the broth is simmering, you'll hve plenty of time to assemble the bowls....
Here is what you'll need.

2 lbs dried rice noodles (Linguine size)
cooked beef from the broth
1/2 lb flank or london broil,  sliced against the grain as thin as possible.
big handful of each: mint, cilantro, basil
2 limes, cut into wedges
2-3 Bird chili peppers, sliced
2 big handfuls of bean sprouts
Hoisin sauce
Sriracha hot sauce
Chile-Garlic sauce

First, blanch your noodles in boiling water for 30-45 seconds and rinse until cool.
Fill each bowl halfway with cooked-cooled noodles. 
Now, break the braised meat into medium sized chunks ( you can use a knife if yu must!) and arrage in bowls.
Slice your flank/london broil as thinly as possible - try freezing for 15 minutes prior to slicing to make it easier. 
Lay the sliced raw meat on top of the noodles.
Arrange all other ingredients on a platter for the table. Your guests will assemble their own bowls.

Strain the broth, skim most fat and bring it  back to a rolling boil. 
As soon as the broth comes back to a boil, ladle some into each bowl over the raw meat. The hot broth will cook your raw beef slices. Serve immediately with soup spoons and chop sticks.
Encourage your guests can dress up their bowls with the condiments and veggies you set up.


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