Vietnam’s fragrant, beef-based noodle soup, pho (pronounced “fuh”), is street food there, sold in small shops and from carts. Originally from the north, it has become a classic throughout Vietnam and a mainstay of Vietnamese restaurants in the United States.
Pho also makes a great Sunday supper. In today’s recipe, beef broth flavored with star anise, cinnamon and ginger is bolstered by noodles and thinly sliced beef and garnished with bean sprouts, romaine, chili slices and cilantro.
Making this dish requires a few steps, but none of them is difficult and everything can be ready in less than an hour. For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm it up.
VIETNAMESE BEEF SOUP (PHO)
Makes 8 servings
Pinot noir, which tends to be fruity and lower in tannins, is one of the few red wines that can work with Asian seasonings. With its hint of spice and medium body, the Rodney Strong 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Estate Vineyards ($20) would make a great match.
10 cups beef broth (homemade or low-sodium canned)
2 medium onions, thickly sliced
4 (½-inch-thick) slices fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
3 large garlic cloves, halved
2 whole star anise
1½ teaspoons whole cloves
8 ounces bean-thread noodles
1 pound flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise
1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh cilantro (or basil) leaves
2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
Lime or lemon wedges
Bottled hot sauce
Combine broth, onion, ginger, fish sauce, garlic, star anise and cloves in heavy large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Strain broth into large bowl; discard solids.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove from heat. Add noodles and let stand until tender and pliable, about 15 minutes. Drain. Using scissors, cut noodles into 2-inch lengths. Transfer to another bowl.
(Noodles and broth can be prepared a day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate. Bring noodles to room temperature before continuing.)
Return broth to pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add steak slices to pot; the hot broth will cook them.
Place soup, noodles, lettuce, green onions, cilantro, jalapenos, bean sprouts, lime wedges and hot sauce in center of table. To serve, ladle soup into large soup bowls, and invite guests to garnish as desired.
Source: Adapted from Epicurious.com.
Per serving: 274 calories (21 percent from fat), 6.5 g fat, (2.5 g saturated, 3 g monounsaturated) 26.4 cholesterol, 20.6 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber, 571 mg sodium.
Carole Kotkin is manager of the Ocean Reef Club cooking school and co-author of “Mmmmiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere.” Contact her at ckotkin@MiamiHerald.com