- by Sandra Molyneaux
Phở is a traditional Vietnamese chicken or beef breakfast “soup” that has
made its way around the globe for round-the-clock eating. The ingredients
are really up to the cook, but this is a “typical” Phở Gà (chicken) recipe;
Phở Bò, a beef version, follows. Unlike Thai or Chinese dishes, Vietnamese
varieties are surprisingly less spicy, but you can adjust them to taste.
It's the subtle balance you are striving for, even as you eat.
Ingredients (other than the meat, used in both Phở Gà and Phở Bò) Stock - Home-made – this is the essential. We always have stock on hand in our freezer Chicken bones left over from a roast, cut up pieces, chicken feet (adds gelatin) Vegetables – 1 or 2 each; whatever is around: carrot, parsnip, onion or leek, celery Herbs – thyme parsley, or whatever you have on hand Broth for Soup - Aromatics Lemongrass sticks – 1 - cut in 4-inch lengths, crush slightly Kieffer Lime Leaves – 4 or 5 - often come as frozen Hot red peppers – 2 whole Garlic – 2 large Ginger – peel, grated (I like a lot of ginger) Soy sauce - splash Fish Sauce – 4-6 drops Turmeric – one tsp. Lime – ½ quartered, + more for table Sesame oil – shot (1 Tb) – + more for soup bowl Optional Broth Ingredients Thai basil/Coriander – toss into broth Base – for soup – enough to almost fill four large bowls Rice Noodles – one “bird nest” per person Onion thinly sliced – not too much Bok Choi – cut up; slice white parts rather thin (gives crunch); green leaves Chicken – left over from Stock Bean Sprouts Garnish Green onions – chopped Parsley or Cilantro Hot sauce – Hungarian Erõs Pista, Korean Chilli Garlic Sauce, or Moroccan Harissa
Sources in Valencia: All available at any standard Asian supermarket -- I prefer the selection and overall shopping experience at HiperAsia, west side of Estació del Nord Univer Erõs Pista – hot is very hot or mild – can be found at a Romanian food shop on Calle de Pelai near Matemàtic Marçal, Chinatown, one block from Hiper Asia
Preparation Stock – Early in the day so as to blend flavours and skim off fat, if any Chicken – left-over chicken bones, cut-up parts, chicken feet Vegetables – cut up large Simmer stock three hours - Turn off heat -- Let stock sit covered at least two hours Pick meat from bones - skim fat, if necessary – reserve meat
Press liquid from vegetables back into the stock – discard pulp
Broth – Mid-day or early afternoon Toss lemongrass, Lime Leaves, and Thai Basil (if using) into the stock Combine Aromatics – using mortar and pestle Crush together peppers, garlic, ginger, soy, spices, lime wedges Add to the Stock; add a little broth to mortar to get last scraps Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly Raise heat to just below a boil. Turn off heat. Sit covered several hours. Assembly – At serving time Bring Broth to a boil. Place a teaspoon (or so) of sesame oil in the bottom of four large bowls Cook rice noodles in boiling water – about 5 minutes. Remove from water; drain; divide into the bowls; toss with oil Layer onions, bok choi, bean sprouts on top of the noodles Top with left-over chicken saved from stock Ladle hot broth over the vegetables and meat – broth should be VERY hot Top with green onions and parsley Serve Immediately – stirring with chopsticks to break up the noodles in the oil
Variations Vegetarian - eliminate meat entirely. Prepare very rich Vegetable Stock instead. Substitute (or add) shredded kale or spinach + celery for Bok Choi
Leftovers If there is broth left over, strain and discard residue. Refrigerate. Use broth to cook rice or just serve as soup broth
Phở Bò (Beef)
Stock – day ahead is better so to allow refrigeration and fat skimmed Roast beef bones in oven with whole garlics and onion wedges – 1 hr.; turn once Transfer beef bones, scrapings, and fresh root vegetables into a large pot of water Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer several hours. Cool. Remove meat, reserve. Press vegetable liquid into stock – discard pulp Refrigerate – overnight, if possible.
Broth Skim fat. Add seasonings and aromatics from Ingredients list above. Bring to a boil. Cover. Turn off heat for several hours
Beef base Thinly-sliced raw sirloin on top of the vegetables. Hot broth cooks the raw beef.