I find it particularly fun to look back on my life and trace the twists and turns that bring us in contact with persons and opportunities. Our guest blogger today is sharing with us for the second time and she is one of those winding roads! I am quite pleased and proud to be sharing our blog space with this special friend from LA. I invite you to read her story, leave a comment and then visit her blog because she is sharing her space with us this time. Brittany Sage lives in Los Angeles, Ca with her husband Wade. She loves writing about her adventures with food, fashion and fun on Lipstickandleopardprint.com.
Wade and I have been longtime fans of the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup pho and have always been curious about making it. Last weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to take on the challenge. We figured out that if you are going to attempt this recipe don’t waste your time going to a regular supermarket. You will save a lot of money and time by simply visiting your local asian market. If your not accustomed to shopping at asian markets don’t be intimidated. It will be like a 20 minute vacation to another country! Do yourself a favor and get the pho spice packet because it comes with its own mesh bag and is extremely inexpensive ($1.25) versus purchasing the spices individually. I also recommend making the stock a day ahead of time so it can be refrigerated and the fat can be easily skimmed off the top.
THE BROTH INGREDIENTS:
3 onions, halved
5″ piece of ginger, halved lengthwise
5 lbs beef marrow bones such as leg and knuckle (have the butcher cut them down)
5 lbs oxtails
6 quarts of water
1 package of Pho Spices [1 cinnamon stick, 1 tbl coriander seeds, 1 tbl fennel seeds, 8 whole star anise, 1 cardamom pod, 6 whole cloves – in mesh bag]
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 cup of fish sauce (nuoc nam is the Vietnamese variety)
1 inch piece of yellow rock sugar (about 1 oz)
MAKING THE BROTH:
Preheat oven on the broil setting. Place oxtails and bones in a LARGE stock pot, cover with water and bring almost to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to begin simmering, place onion and ginger on a sheet pan and place on the top shelf of your oven and char until blackish brown on edges. Remove and reserve for next step. Turn down heat so that the bones do not boil and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Discard water and replace with 6 quarts of fresh water. It is said that this step removes the impurities from the broth. Add charred onion, ginger, parsnips, fish sauce, sugar, salt and spice packet. Simmer for 5 hours. Add more water if the water level falls below the bones. Remove and discard large bones, ginger, parsnips and spice sack. Then strain broth into another large pot using a fine mesh strainer. Refrigerate over night and skim fat off the top of broth the next day.
THE SOUP INGREDIENTS:
2 packages of flat rice noodles (banh pho)
1 lb top sirloin, thinly sliced and fat discarded
thinly sliced white onion
Sriracha hot sauce
**You will also need bunches of your favorite pho accoutrements such as mint, cilantro, purple basil, dandelion leaves, bean sprouts, sliced jalapeño, lime wedges… These ingredients have gorgeous color and make a fabulous edible center piece!
Finishing the soup:
Place noodles in large bowl of warm water for 30 minutes then drain and reserve noodles. Slice top sirloin against the grain as thin as is humanly possible. (Place meat in the freezer before slicing for 30 minutes to help firm it up a bit.) On the stovetop heat the broth to a rapid boil, adjusting the flavor by adding salt, pepper, and/or more fish sauce. When you are ready to serve use a fine mesh strainer with a handle or a china cap to dunk the noodles in the boiling broth for just a second. Remove let noodles drain into the broth. Then place noodles into individual bowl. Do this one serving at a time. Cover noodles with thinly sliced beef, onions, scallions and fresh ground pepper. Ladle broth over noodles in each bowl and serve immediately with all of your favorite pho accoutrements.
Although making pho at home was a very lengthy process it was extremely satisfying to accomplish and have it actually taste great. Wade is always up for a fun, adventurous cooking challenge!