Monday, August 30, 2010

Pho Sure

Pho (pronounced fur) is a Vietnamese meat and noodle soup. I have such wonderful memories of the deliciously light pho served at Vie Ha Long at Piyarom Plaza in Bangkok's Sukhumvit Soi 101/1. I found this recipe on the internet and re-fashioned it to what I remember.

First, put the meat in the freezer. You want the meat to be slightly frozen so that it will cut into paper-thin slices. While it is freezing, make the soup stock. 

Soup Stock
6 cups water
1 chicken leg
1/2 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce

Put water, chicken leg, and bouillon in a saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil, then simmer 45 minutes.

While the soup stock is simmering, prepare the garnishes and the meat and noodles.

1 lime sliced into 4 wedges
1/2 medium onion sliced very thinly
4 sprigs cilantro, chopped
2 scallions sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 cup bean sprouts (soak sprouts in hot water for 30-60 seconds, if desired)
1 cup chopped spinach
2-3 chopped chilies (optional)
fish sauce and pepper to taste

Meat and noodles
1 cup pork fillet or boneless skinless chicken breast
1 1/2 cups fresh shrimp with the tail on (about 2 large shrimp per person)
7 oz. of dry rice noodles
1 teaspoon fish suce
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Soak the noodles in warm water until they become limp. Drain.  Put 6 cups of water on to boil. After half an hour, take the meat out of the freezer and slice it thinly. Place meat in a bowl and season with fish sauce and pepper. Set aside. [Cook's note: I recommend adding the seasoning because the meat was bland.] If the shrimp are frozen, put them in a bowl of cool water to thaw. Drain and set aside. When the 6 cups of water is boiling, turn off the heat. Add the noodles and cover until they are al dente or until the noodles lose their transparency and become opaque. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again and set aside.

By now the stock is ready. It's time to flavor the soup stock. In a saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil. Add the ginger and garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the fish sauce then pour into the soup. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

To the simmering soup stock, add the (thawed) shrimp. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until shrimp become a delicate pink all over. Add the meat a  piece at a time until heated through and no longer pink, about one minute. Remove the soup from the heat. Return noodles to the pot to loosen and heat up. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and, to each bowl, add a handful of spinach, some slivered onion, scallion, and cilantro. To adjust seasonings to taste, serve with lime wedges, fish sauce, and if using, chopped chilies. [Cook's note: Don't discard the chicken leg. Strip the skin and meat off the bone and eat it with left over soup or rice.]

Pho Sure!
It was so delicious, I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway through eating it!

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