Heady, fragrant, aromatic and cleansing - pho is one of my top noodle dishes of all time.
And it's this favourite dish of mine I decided to break the blog silence with - what else would do? You see, for the last four weeks we've been a bit busy...living like hobos...out of bags and boxes...at my grandmas.
I know how it sounds, but grandma is a rather cool lady. Nifty in her little Mercedes, off out with her girlfriends from the golf club whenever she has the chance, and she likes a good glass of wine or two. Being here is really quite good fun. Plus I get to use all her antique dinnerware (see pics for a lovely duck egg blue set).
But, this isn't a move for the long term - it's temporary whilst we find our next house. This time up north in Manchester where I've been offered a fantastic new job, so I'm soon again to be Hannah-the-Planner, I can't wait.
Enough of me, on to the dish...
Given I'm still off the chillies, this is the ideal noodle dish for me to devour because that the dish itself is entirely without heat- if you want a dose of the hot stuff you simply add some shredded red chilli before eating.
There are a couple of ways you can make it; as a labour of love, or a quick hit - and both ways yield excellent results.
The long way:
If you have the time to get hold of some beef bones and oxtail, then roast, boil, skim and simmer with peppercorns, carrots, celery, peeled onions and the aromatics for several hours before clarifying with egg whites, you'll create an intense, rich, deeply flavoured stock.
The short way:
But if you're lacking time you can use a fantastic cheat ingredient instead - canned beef consomme. Its flavour still delivers the beefy taste you need and mixes well with the additional aromatics and you don't have to go through any of the pain to get there.
Perhaps one version is for weekend eating - put it on in late morning then eat it early evening, and the other version is post work - cooked and on the table within an hour.
The recipe below is the short version, which isn't completely authentic I know pho aficionados will say, but is still incredibly aromatic and delicious.
Pho for two:
10 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 lemongrass stalks, halved through their centres
1 very large thumb of ginger, cut roughly into stalks
2 teaspoons of whole peppercorns
1 heaped tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 cans beef consomme (Baxters one is very good)
A small handful coriander
A small handful fresh mint
A small handful Thai holy basil
Rice noodles - I like the wide variety for this, however many you like for two
2 sirloin steaks
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Black pepper - ground
5 radishes, sliced very finely (and carefully) on a mandolin
A couple of handfuls of beansprouts
One lime, cut into quarters
Method:- In a large saucepan combine the consomme, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, star anise, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Simmer for 20-30 minutes with the lid on
- Whilst this is happening heat a dry frying pan until its very hot, and season your steaks on one side with a sprinkling of the sesame seeds, salt and black pepper before putting them seasoned side down in the pan. Now season the other sides whilst they're cooking ready for when you turn them. Cook them for 3 minutes before turning over. Cook for 3 minutes this side then remove them from the pan and set aside on a chopping board. Leave for 5 minutes before slicing thinly with a knife
- When you're around 10 minutes from the pho being ready, cook your rice noodles as per the pack instructions, by the time the water has boiled and they've cooked you should have both things ready at the same time
- Strain the noodles and separate them into two large pre-warmed bowls
- Strain the pho and all its contents through a sieve into another saucepan, then pick out a few of the star anise and the ginger from the colander, and put them back into the saucepan with the liquor (I like to do this for decoration, they shouldn't be eaten)
- Add the radishes and bring it back to the boil
- Place the sliced steak over the rice noodles along with a handful each of the bean shoots, holy basil, mint and coriander, then ladle over the hot liquor