There's nothing like a soothing bowl of chicken soup. Unless it's a bowl of pho.
Soothe with fragrant pho
Ann Zakimi is looking for a pho recipe for a friend who has lupus. "She says it's the one thing that makes her feel better."
Zakimi and her co-workers at the Queen Emma Foundation are frequent eaters at Hale Vietnam, where they've learned to love the warm, fragrant noodle soup.
The recipe that follows is from Nina Simonds' "Asian Noodles: Deliciously Simple Dishes to Twirl, Slurp and Savor," published by Hearst Books in 1997.
This beautifully organized book is a good primer on all types of Asian noodle dishes, soups to stir-fries. Simonds includes photographs and descriptions of 18 types of noodles so you can learn to separate ramen from egg noodles from buckwheat noodles from udon.
Pho is made from rice sticks, medium-size and flat. This is different from cellophane noodles, which they resemble, but which are made from the starch of mung beans.
Anyway, rice sticks are sold in many supermarkets and all Asian markets, although the most commonly available type is the thin, round noodle. This is suitable for pho in a pinch. But for the real flat noodle, check out more specialized shops or Ranch 99 Market.
The distinctive flavor of pho comes from the cinnamon, anise and ginger used in the stock, Simonds says. In Vietnam, she says, the soup is served at all times of the day.
Simonds summarizes in her introduction: "Asian noodle dishes, with their fresh ingredients and light sauces, not only are healthy and delicious, but they impart a wish of longevity to those who devour them."
Hanoi Beef Noodles (Pho)1/4 cup fish sauceTo make stock: Combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, 1-1/2 hours, skimming impurities and fat. Strain. Remove meat from bones and cut into thin slices; discard bones and seasonings. Skim fat.
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces flat rice stick noodles
1 lime, in 6 wedges
1 hot red chile pepper, in thin rings
1/2 pound boneless beef sirloin, fat trimmed and cut paper-thin, about 1-1/2 inches square
2 cups bean sprouts
3-3/4 pounds beef shinbone or oxtails, preferably with meat and marrow
16 cups water
4 shallots, thinly sliced
6 slices fresh ginger, each the size of a quarter, peeled and smashed
4 pieces star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup minced scallion greens
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 cup basil leaves, shredded, preferably Thai basil
Add fish sauce and pepper to stock. Keep warm over low heat.
Soften noodles in hot water, then cook until just tender. Rinse under warm water and drain. Divide among six bowls.
Add cooked beef, sirloin and bean sprouts to the hot soup, return to boil and cook until sirloin is no longer pink, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Skim surface again.
Ladle beef/sprout mixture and broth over noodles. Serve with lime and chile pepper; sprinkle with garnishes. Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 550 calories, 30 g total fat, 13 g saturated fat, 110 mg cholesterol, 560 mg sodium*
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