Recipe from Roberts cookbook: Get an autographed copy –> Vietnam Cooking
Pho noodle soup with beef
6 cups (1.5 l) rich beef stock
1 1/4 inch (3 cm) knob fresh ginger, peeled
1/4 cup peeled brown or pink shallots (about 3/4 oz/20 g)
1 star anise
1 brown or black cardamom pod, lightly crushed
1 lb (500 g) packet rice noodles (banh pho) or rice sticks
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Chinese (flat or garlic) chives
2 scallions (green onions), coarsely chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
6 oz (180 g) very thinly sliced beef rump (Scotch fillet), or eye of round (eye of silverside)
Soup Herbs, including eryngo leaves (sawtooth coriander); peppermint; bean sprouts; 2 fresh medium or long red chilies, cut into small rings; 1-2 lemons, cut into wedges, fish sauce or Nuoc cham sauce
If using a commercial stock, add 2 brown or black cardamom or 2-3 whole star anise. Simmer over low heat, tightly covered, for 30 minutes-1 hour.
Meanwhile, make a small foil packet and envelope the ginger and shallot. Roast for about 20 minutes in a preheated 400 F (200 C) oven; remove and chop, then add to the stock. Add star anise and cardamom. Bring the stock to the boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes, then remove the star anise and cardamom immediately prior to serving.
To serve: If using fresh noodles, plunge the noodles quickly in boiling water, drain and arrange in individual heated bowls. Dried noodles should be soaked in cold water for up to 30 minutes, or until soft.
Immediately before serving, plunged the noodles into boiling water momentarily, and place in warm bowls. Add the chives, scallion and onion to each bowl. Toss the meat into the boiling stock momentarily, then ladle the meat and boiling stock into each bowl. Accompany with Soup herbs, plus chili and fish sauce or Nuoc cham sauce, to taste. Squeeze wedges of lemon into individual bowls. Serves 4-6
Hint: Have your butcher use an electric slicer to cut the meat paper thin. Alternatively, slightly freezing the meat allows easier handling when slicing with a knife at home.
Variation: Pho with Chicken
Substitute chicken stock for the beef stock, omitting the star anise and cardamom. Replace the beef with 2 large chicken breasts, boned and skinned. Slice the chicken very thin, then poach the meat in the simmering broth for about 2 minutes, or until just done. Continue as directed above.
Note: Banh pho generally comes in three widths. The smallest 1/16 inch width (0.1 cm) is best here. The traditional noodles for pho are the wider banh pho noodles or rice sticks, not thin vermicelli.
Note: Do no confuse large brown or black cardamom pods with standard small Indian cardamom pods.