Pho (2) Collection

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by Judy Bolton, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. Judy Bolton

    Judy Bolton Guest

    Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup)
    Le Thiep's Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)

    Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup)

    8 servings

    The multifaceted presentation of pho makes it great for entertaining. The
    preferred method of eating pho is to use chopsticks in one hand, spoon in
    the other. If desired, dab chili and hoisin sauce on the noodles and meat
    as they make your way to your mouth. Slurp as necessary. For a
    beefier-tasting broth, add more beef or bones. You can also do what some
    Vietnamese cooks do: Add monosodium glutamate, or MSG. A key component of
    pho found in Vietnamese kitchens and restaurants, MSG gives a vibrant,
    savory lift to the flavor. If using MSG, add 1 1/2 teaspoons at the same
    time you add the fish sauce. MSG is available on most supermarket shelves
    as Accent or in small bags at Asian groceries.

    For easy retrieval from the broth, the spices can be tied in cheesecloth
    or tucked inside a tea ball infuser. You may check your local Vietnamese
    grocery for a spice sachet made specifically for pho that contains spices
    already toasted and ground into powder.

    For the broth:

    4 pounds beef soup bones (preferably shin and knuckle bones, with some meat
    on them)
    8 ounces beef tendon (optional)
    2-pound piece of beef brisket or 4 pounds beef shank, beef back ribs or
    oxtails
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
    4-inch piece ginger root (about 4 ounces), unpeeled, thickly sliced
    2 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
    1 package pho spice mixture OR
    6 whole star anise, 3 sticks cinnamon, 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, 1
    tablespoon black peppercorns and 8 whole cloves
    1 small piece rock sugar* (may substitute 2 teaspoons palm sugar or light
    brown sugar)
    2 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam)

    For the assembled pho:

    1 pound (16 ounces) rice noodles
    2 pounds raw beef (such as top round, flank steak, chuck, brisket) OR
    reserved brisket from the broth
    Cooked tendon (optional; reserved from broth)
    1 medium yellow onion, peeled
    1 bunch scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced on a diagonal
    About 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
    Plate of Thai basil sprigs
    Plate of fresh bean sprouts
    Plate of sliced green chili peppers (jalapeo or serrano)
    Red chili sauce (such as Tuong Ot Sriracha)
    Hoisin sauce

    For the broth: Place beef bones in a large, heavy pot or stock pot. Add
    enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes; a
    bubbly gray scum should form on top of the liquid. Drain the water, rinse
    the bones in the kitchen sink and clean the pot. (This removes the loose
    protein that normally would collect on the surface of the broth as scum.)

    Return the bones to the pot, along with the tendon, if using, and brisket.
    Add 4 quarts (16 cups) of water and salt and bring almost to a boil.
    Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer actively,
    skimming away any scum that forms. Simmer the stock for a total of 6 to 7
    hours or overnight. If using brisket, remove it after it is cooked
    through, about 1 1/2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bones and
    tendon, if using; reserve the tendon.

    Meanwhile, over a flame or in a dry skillet, char the ginger and onions
    lightly on all sides. (May instead roast the ginger and onions on a baking
    sheet in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes.) After the broth has simmered
    for 6 or 7 hours, add the ginger and onion and continue to simmer until
    the broth is well flavored and amber-colored, about 1 more hour.

    Strain the broth through cheesecloth or a fine sieve, pressing gently on
    the onion to remove any juices. Discard the solids. Measure broth and add
    water as needed to bring total amount of liquid to 16 cups.

    If using a mix of loose spices, toast them in a dry skillet over medium
    heat until aromatic to release their flavorful essential oils. Pour the
    strained broth into a pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the rock sugar and
    fish sauce. Add the spices, wrapped inside cheesecloth or tucked inside a
    tea infuser ball if desired, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or
    longer if a stronger star anise presence is desired. (Keep in mind that
    too much of the spice can be overpowering.) Remove and discard the spices.
    For maximum flavor, let the soup rest an hour or so before serving, or
    make it a day ahead so the flavors have a chance to meld. (May refrigerate
    for up to several days. Any fat in the broth will congeal on the surface
    and can be spooned away, but leave some for flavor.)

    For the assembled pho: Preheat large, deep serving bowls in a 200-degree
    oven. Bring the broth to a boil and let it boil vigorously. If using
    dried rice noodles, place them in a large bowl or deep casserole and cover
    with boiling water. As the noodles wilt, press them into the hot water and
    set aside until softened completely. Drain and set aside.

    You will need either raw beef or the brisket reserved from the broth. If
    using raw beef, freeze it for at least 10 minutes and up to 2 hours before
    slicing. (Partially frozen meat is easier to slice.) Slice the raw beef
    very thinly so that it will cook through in the broth. If using the
    brisket or tendon, thinly slice it.

    Halve the onion then thinly slice it into moon-shaped wedges.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a portion of the cooked or
    fresh noodles in a large strainer and dip them into the boiling water
    until heated through, 5 to 10 seconds. Transfer the noodles to a heated
    bowl and repeat with the remaining noodles. Place some sliced beef and
    onion into each bowl and ladle about 2 cups of hot broth over the noodles.
    If the beef is raw, it should cook through fairly quickly. Add some of the
    scallions, cilantro and basil. Repeat the process for each bowl. Pass the
    bowls to individual guests and allow them to add the remaining bean
    sprouts, chili peppers and condiments to taste.

    Le Thiep's Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)

    8 servings

    Though less widely consumed in its native Vietnam than its beefy cousin,
    chicken pho is a wonderfully light soup infused with the same ginger,
    cinnamon and star anise flavors. This pho has the added benefit of being
    on the table less than two hours after you start cooking. If you wish to
    use MSG to accentuate the chicken flavor, add 1 1/2 teaspoons to the broth
    when you add the salt.

    For the broth:

    4-inch piece ginger root, unpeeled
    14 medium shallots, peeled
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    Two 3-pound chickens (preferably free-range for optimal flavor)
    3 whole scallions
    5 star anise
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1-ounce piece Chinese rock sugar (may substitute 2 teaspoons palm or light
    brown sugar)

    For the assembled pho:

    1 pound dried or fresh rice noodles
    A bowl of cilantro leaves
    A bowl of finely chopped scallions
    Plate of Thai basil sprigs
    Plate of fresh bean sprouts
    Plate of thinly sliced green chili peppers (jalapeo)
    Red chili sauce (such as Tuong Ot Sriracha)
    A pepper mill

    For the broth: In a 425-degree oven, roast the ginger and shallots until
    slightly softened and lightly browned, about 30 minutes for the shallots
    and about 45 minutes for the ginger.

    Meanwhile, in a large pot bring 4 quarts (16 cups) of water to a boil.
    Take note of the water level. Season with salt.

    Wash the chickens thoroughly under cold water, removing any packages of
    gizzards from the cavity and any excess fat from near the cavity opening.
    Gently lower the chickens into the boiling water. Cook at a light boil for
    20 minutes, removing any scum that rises to the surface. Remove from the
    heat, cover and set aside for another 10 minutes to allow the chickens to
    poach in the hot liquid. Using a sturdy wooden spoon inserted into the
    cavity, lift the chickens one at a time, tip them to drain any liquid and
    transfer to a cutting board to cool.

    Return the pot to medium-high heat and return the broth to a boil.
    Replenish any lost liquid that evaporated with boiling water. (There
    should be a rim of fat and scum where the original water line was.) Wrap
    the ginger and shallots in cheesecloth, if desired. Add the ginger,
    shallots and scallions to the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and
    simmer for 25 minutes.

    In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the star anise and cinnamon until
    browned but not burned. If desired, wrap the cinnamon and star anise in
    cheesecloth or tuck inside a tea infuser. Add the spices and sugar to the
    broth and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Strain the broth
    through cheesecloth or a fine sieve, pressing gently on the shallots to
    remove any juices. Discard the solids. Measure broth and add water as
    needed to bring total amount of liquid to 16 cups.

    For maximum flavor, let the soup rest an hour or so before serving, or
    make it a day ahead so the flavors have a chance to meld. (May refrigerate
    for up to several days. Any fat in the broth will congeal on the surface
    and can be spooned away, but leave some for flavor and texture.)

    Carve the chicken into pieces and use your fingers or a knife to remove
    the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces, leaving skin
    intact if desired.

    For the assembled pho:

    Preheat large, deep serving bowls in a 200-degree oven. Bring the broth
    to a boil. If using dried rice noodles, place them in a large bowl or
    deep casserole and cover with boiling water. As the noodles wilt, press
    them into the hot water until softened completely. Drain and set aside.
    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a portion of the cooked or
    fresh noodles in a large strainer and dip them into the boiling water
    until heated through, 5 to 10 seconds. Transfer the noodles to a bowl and
    repeat with the remaining noodles.

    Place some chicken, cilantro and scallions in each bowl. Ladle about 2
    cups of hot broth over everything. Repeat the process for each bowl. Pass
    the bowls to individual guests and allow them to add the remaining basil,
    bean sprouts, chili peppers and condiments to taste.

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