Pho-Vietnamese Noodle Soup
Have you ever loved a dish so much, you felt is if it was a part of your family's history and therefore a part of you? This is how I feel about pho. I made it for lunch today as Demetrio went on a daytrip to go cart racing in San Remo. As much as I love my DH (dear husband) I knew he could never fully appreciate the time and authenticity of my mom's pho recipe; plus he's not a big broth/soup eater. Instead I invited 2 people over for lunch who I knew would gush over some really good Vietnamese food, my new friend Sharon, who is Chinese and from Singapore and her French husband. Both love all Asian cuisines and enjoyed the dish almost as much as I did.
As a child, I help my mom in the kitchen constantly and I think I have been learning to make pho since I was about 10 years old. My dad, my sisters and I used to have pho contests, in which we would all season our soups in our own special way, then we'd taste all the other soups and decide whose tasted best. My dad's was always on the oily side, mine on the sweet side and my sisters' on the either salty or sour side. Who would not feel comforted my a big, steaming hot bowl of rice noodles in a fragrant broth? To read more about the history of Pho, click here.
My Mom's Pho Recipe
4-6 pounds of oxtail and/or beef soup bones
2 onions, medium
2 pieces of ginger, the size of your thumb
5 pieces of star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
Rice noodles or rice sticks
thinly sliced flank steak or sirloin-freeze slightly until firm enough to slice paper thin
1. Char the ginger, onion, and cinnamon over a flame or on the your stove top until they are blackened all over.
2. Cool the ginger, onion and cinnamon. Peel off the outer layers of the onion and place in the stock pot, rinse the ginger under running water and place it along with the cinnamon and cloves into the stock pot. Add the rinsed beef bones/oxtail and just cover with water. Bring to a boil. Once the soup starts to boil, skim the impurities from the stock. Add several tablespoons of fish sauce and palm sugar or rock sugar (my mom did not) to the soup and let simmer until the oxtails have become very soft. Upwards of two hours.
3. Remove the oxtails from the soup and set aside, discard all other bones and strain soup. Once the soup is clarified, trim fat off the oxtails and add them back to the soup. Keep warm while you prepare the garnishes.
4. After all the garnishes are prepared. Cook the rice sticks according to the package directions; remember to keep the noodles chewy. Drain the noodles and put into large soup bowls. Carefully place thinly sliced beef on top of the noodles, ladle the hot broth along with 1-2 oxtails per bowl. The hot broth will cook the thin slices of beef. Serve immediately with all the garnishes.
Charred pieces of ginger, garlic, star anise and cinnamon.
Oxtails, waiting to be cooked.
The finished soup. A wonderful dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I crave it when the weather turns cold and it's my "chicken soup" when I have a cold.
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