Thursday, June 4, 2009
Fee Fi Pho Bo
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite - Like it or not, ready or not, we are celebrating a birthday today, and, as has become our habit, the day will begin with a wonderfully flavored pho - pronounced fuh - containing long life noodles. Pho is a an extraordinary rice-noodle soup that has its origins in Vietnam. I've come to love it. In Asia, noodles are served for birthdays and some holidays as a symbol of longevity; it's believed that a shortened life is the fate of those who cut their noodles into more manageable lengths. I don't plan to cut mine - I've worked really hard to get to this point and there's no reason to tempt fate. While it's a Vietnamese dish, varieties of pho are served for breakfast throughout Asia. The one requirement for an outstanding soup is a really well-flavored broth. If you have that and you know how to soften rice noodles you'll forever have a simple meal at your fingertips. I'd love to tell you I simmer my broth for hours, but that would be untrue. I doctor canned broth and make a soup that is as good as some I had in Asia. So, it will be pho for breakfast, a fresh salmon burger for lunch and dinner at King Estates - a beautiful chateau-like winery that sits on a hilltop in the Lorane Valley. It's going to be a wonderful day, even if it means I'm no longer twenty-one. Let's get breakfast out of the way.
Pho Bo ... From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
2 (14.5-oz.) cans low-sodium beef broth
2 (14.5-oz.) cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 3-inch piece peeled ginger, sliced in rounds and bruised
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
3 whole star anise
8 ounces medium rice noodles
1 pound tender steak, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 thin sliced jalapeno chile
3 scallions, white and tender green, cut crosswise on the bias
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts
1) Place stock, garlic, ginger slices, fish sauce, sou sauce, sugar, cinnamon sticks and star anise in a 4 to 5 quart stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until flavors are blended. Strain. Keep warm over very low heat.
2) Meanwhile, prepare rice noodles per package instructions. I cover mine with boiling water and allow them to sit for 20 minutes before draining. Drain and place an equal portion in each of six 2-cup soup bowls.
3) Season steak with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet. When oil is hot, add a single layer of sliced steak to pan and sear until browned, about 1 minute per side. Remove and set aside. Continue with remaining slices.
4) Place an equal portion of beansprouts sliced jalapeno, scallions and meat on top of noodles in soup bowls. Ladle broth into each bowl; top with a portion of herbs and peanuts. Serve immediately with lime wedges. Yield: 6 servings.