Pho is seen as Viet­nam’s ‘gift to world’

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

Viet­nam. A coun­try I have trav­elled to a num­ber of times over the years and have never tired of.

Steeped in his­tory, a unique cul­ture, and, of course, in­cred­i­ble cui­sine, you would think it to be the per­fect hol­i­day choice. But like many of its South East Asian coun­ter­parts, some feel that travel there has been neg­a­tively af­fected by mass tourism and pre­fer to travel off the beaten track.

How­ever, the beaten track is popular for a rea­son. The mag­nif­i­cent chaos of Hanoi, the stun­ning beauty of Ha­long Bay, the glo­ri­ous World Her­itage site of Hoi An to name a few, once there, you will un­der­stand why hordes of peo­ple head to th­ese popular tourist hot spots each year.

The in­fa­mous Pho, or Viet­namese noo­dle soup, in this week’s recipe has some call­ing it Viet­nam’s "gift to the world". It is one of the most de­li­ciously fra­grant soups I have ever come across.

My feel­ing is there are two key in­gre­di­ents in this dish which are ‘‘must haves’’ to en­sure its authenticity . . . star anise and cin­na­mon quill. The broth is cre­ated with lay­ers of flavours, re­sult­ing in a hugely aro­matic and restora­tive dish.

I have dis­cov­ered many of my favourite dishes dur­ing my backpacking ad­ven­tures many moons ago. I first tasted Pho while vis­it­ing Viet­nam with two good mates in the late 1990s. We ate our way through the coun­try with such zeal we left sev­eral ki­los heav­ier I am sure! Chefs from high-end restau­rants to street-side ven­dors in Viet­nam cook this divine dish. It is a sum­ma­tion in a bowl of all that Viet­nam cui­sine stands for, with its mix­ture of tex­tures, aro­mat­ics and plethora of mixed fresh herbs.

Be­low is a sim­ple, yet very sim­i­lar ver­sion of this com­plex dish. Many of us lead busy lives so do not have the hours it takes to cre­ate their own beef stock, but if you use a good qual­ity stock from the shops and the aro­mat­ics listed be­low, you will achieve a sim­i­lar flavour and feel like you have been trans­ported to Viet­nam. En­joy!

Viet­namese pho

Prep Time – 15 mins Cook time – 15 mins Serves 4

In­gre­di­ents

1.5l good qual­ity beef stock Half onion, sliced thinly 6 whole star anise 1-2 cin­na­mon quills 1 thumb size peeled ginger that has been sliced into 3-4 pieces 1 pinch of ground car­damom 2 whole cloves 1 ta­ble­spoon lime juice 1 ta­ble­spoon fish sauce 400g fil­let steak thinly sliced 1 pack flat rice noo­dles (I pre­fer Tri­dent)

Gar­nish

1 big hand­ful of Thai basil, leaves plucked off stalk 1 small hand­ful co­rian­der 2 red chilli thinly sliced 2-3 spring onion sliced thinly 1 lime, quar­tered 100g bean sprouts

Method

1. Place the beef sock in a pot and bring to the boil with the onion, star anise, cin­na­mon, ginger, car­damom, cloves and fish sauce. Sim­mer for about 10 mins then add in your lime juice. Use a ser­rated spoon to re­move the solids from the now fra­grant broth. 2. Cook the noo­dles fol­low­ing the in­struc­tions on the packet. The Tri­dent ones take only two to three min­utes. One pack serves 4 adults for this dish. 3. To serve, place the noo­dles evenly across four bowls. Place the raw thinly sliced beef on top of the noo­dles, then pour over the boil­ing hot fra­grant broth. This will cook the meat enough to eat. 4. Gar­nish with the Thai basil, co­rian­der, chilli, spring onion and bean sprouts. Place a piece of lime on each dish also.

Pho: Viet­namese noo­dle soup.

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