Who else is tired of the MGD64 commercials? They’re kind of silly. Actually, I’m finding commercials a bit annoying in general lately. Maybe I should pick different content to watch (What? So I like the B movies… Mickey Blue Eyes, Beauty Shop, … is it really so wrong? I’ve been taking a break from cooking shows today. But the MGD64 and Old Navy commercials are getting to me). Oh, anyway. I can’t fight it. I like fluff and bad commercials come with fluff (unless it’s marshmallow fluff. Mm. marshmallows…)
I have made this Pho a few times before and it is extremely quick and produces an intoxicating broth. The anise and cloves with ginger and garlic… they blend beautifully. How to Eat Supper is one of my favorite cookbooks. The authors are the hosts of The Splendid Table on NPR. I haven’t ever actually listened to their show (maybe I should). But their book is wonderful. They have found ways to maximize flavor in short amounts of time, so this Pho even works for a weeknight (if you have the ingredients on hand). The broth is also really good with rice (instead of the rice noodles).
One of the secrets is to roast the spices and other aromatics under the broiler to release the flavors and aromas (star anise is so pretty).
Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup with Beef and Fresh Herbs (Pho)
1 medium onion, thin sliced
4 large garlic cloves, thin sliced
One 2- to 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thin sliced
6 whole cloves
1 whole star anise, bruised; or 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
fresh-ground black pepper
Four 14-oz cans chicken broth
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)
6 to 8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles
6 to 8 ounces top round steak
1. With the oven rack about 4-6 inches, preheat the broiler. Line a sheet pan with foil.
2. Scatter the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, anise and 5 grinds of pepper on the foil. Broil for 5 minutes, turning the pieces once. This will toast the edges of some of the onion and release the frangrance of the spices. Scrape everything into a 6-quart pot.
3. Add the broth, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a gentle boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, get the rice noodles ready. Put the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover them with hot tap water. Soak the noodles for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are tender but a little firmer than you want.
5. If you are able to slice the beef thin enough, you can just put the beef in the bowl with the noodles and it will cook in the hot broth. I have found though that it is difficult to slice the beef thin enough even if I freeze the beef first. SO I usually throw the meat into the pot for 1-2 minutes before serving.
6. Divide the noodles between 2 bowls. Ladle bubbling broth into the bowls.
7. Serve it with a traditional “table salad” of cilantro, basil, serranos or jalapeños, bean sprouts and lime wedges (oh, and don’t forget the hoisin sauce and Sriracha!)