Just being back from Hawaii; FREEZING inside and out, I decided a big pot of hot, steamy noodles was needed. This was my first attempt at Phở Bò – Vietnamese Beef Noodles. Yes, there is a Pho restaurant about every third block, here in Seattle, but I wanted to make my own. The simmering broth filled the house with the most amazing aroma, as the spice combination is not something we have used before. I will make this again and freeze the broth to construct a quick meal!
The ingredients are pretty basic and should be available at a well stocked super-market. I am fortunate to have a lovely Asian market nearby. It is well staffed with knowledgeable folks who have helped me decipher the labels many times. Amazon.com is also a great resource, should you not be able to find the ingredients at your market.
The spring rolls were a last-minute addition, and a great accompaniment! I took a Thai cooking class a few years ago, and have been making the spring rolls ever since. Writing about them forced me to actually measure the ingredients for the dipping sauce. When the instructor demonstrated this, it was “a little of this and a little of that”. It does take some practice to make a tight roll, but it is worth the effort!
For the Spring Rolls
It is difficult to provide exact amounts, as it is all dependent on the number of rolls you intend to make!
Spring Roll Rice Paper wrappers – 1 per roll
Fresh Mint leaves – 2 to 3 per roll
Fresh Thai Basil leaves – 2 to 3 per roll
Julienned Daikon Radish – approximately 1 Tablespoon per roll
(Marinate in a small glass dish with 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)
Julienned Carrot – approximately 1 Tablespoon per roll
Bean thread noodles – Saifun – approximately 1 Tablespoon per roll
Shrimp – I use 51/60 – cooked, deveined, peeled and tails removed – about 4 per roll
Leaf lettuce – I like butter lettuce, easy to roll – 1 per roll
Dip the rice paper sheet in a bowl of warm water to soften – just until the lines disappear. Lay the paper on a plate or cutting board. Lay the shrimp on the paper followed by the lettuce leaf, the noodles, carrot, daikon, basil and mint. Roll tightly, like a burrito, folding the ends over about half way through and then complete the roll. Below is a video showing how to make the rolls.
For the Dipping Sauce
2-3 Cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1-2 Thai chilies, seeds removed and sliced
1″ piece of ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 cup Hoisin Sauce
1/2 cup Oyster Sauce
1 teaspoon date palm sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup of Sprite
Chopped Peanuts if desired, a couple of tablespoons
Place the garlic, ginger, sugar, chilies and vinegar in a blender. Process until smooth. Add the Hoison and Oyster sauce. Blend again. Add the Sprite, blend and taste for seasoning. This is one of those things you need to adjust to your taste. Want it hotter – add more chilies, sweeter – more sugar, etc… The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about a week and gets better after it chills awhile.
To serve, cut the rolls on the diagonal. Place the sauce in individual bowls for dipping. Add chopped peanuts if desired.
For the Phở Bò
Since I had not made this before, I looked through a few cookbooks and recipes on the internet. I decided on the great recipe form Jaden Hair’s blog, Steamy Kitchen, www.steamykitchen.com.
For the broth
2 onions, halved
6″ nub of ginger, halved lengthwise
5-6 lbs of good beef marrow bones
6 quarts of water
Spice bag – 1 cinnamon stick, 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 2-3 cardamom pods, 6 whole cloves – all wrapped in cheesecloth and tied.
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 inch chunk of date palm sugar
1 16 oz. Package Rice noodles (dried or fresh), cooked according to directions (I used Banh Pho, Flat Rice Noodles)
1/2 lb sirloin, sliced as thin as possible. (I found thinly pre-sliced sirloin at my market)
big handful of each: mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges
2-3 chili peppers, sliced (Fresno or Jalapeno)
2 big handfuls of bean sprouts
Hoisin sauce and Sriracha hot sauce for garnish
I roasted the bones in the oven at 375′ for about an hour. This is not standard in traditional recipes. I found it very helpful to remove a lot of the fat and intensify the flavor. I then continued the recipe as written.
Char: Turn your broiler on high and move rack to the highest spot. Place ginger and onions on baking sheet. Brush just a bit of cooking oil on the cut side of each. Broil on high until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn over and continue to char. This should take a total of 10-15 minutes.
Parboil the bones: Fill large pot (12-qt capacity) with cool water. Boil water, and then add the bones, keeping the heat on high. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse the bones and rinse out the pot. Refill pot with bones and 6 qts of cool water. Bring to boil over high heat and lower to simmer. Using a ladle or a fine mesh strainer, remove any scum that rises to the top.
Boil broth: Add ginger, onion, spice bag, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for 3 hours. Strain broth and return the broth to the pot. Taste broth and adjust seasoning – this is a crucial step. If the broth’s flavor doesn’t quite shine yet, add 2 teaspoons more of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a small nugget of date palm sugar (or 1 teaspoon of regular sugar). Keep doing this until the broth tastes perfect.
Prepare noodles & meat: Slice your sirloin as thin as possible – try freezing for 15 minutes prior to slicing to make it easier. Arrange all other ingredients on a platter for the table. Your guests will “assemble” their own bowls. Follow the directions on your package of noodles – there are many different sizes and widths of rice noodles, so make sure you read the directions. For some fresh rice noodles, just a quick 5 second blanch in hot water is all that’s needed.
Ladling: Bring your broth back to a boil. Line up your soup bowls next to the stove. Fill each bowl with rice noodles, raw meat slices. As soon as the broth comes back to a boil, ladle into each bowl. the hot broth will cook your raw beef slices. Serve immediately. Guests can garnish their own bowls as they wish.
My favorite Fish Sauce is Three Crabs Brand
My favorite Hoisin is Koon Chun (my shop was out of this brand so I used Panda, which is not quite as thick)