Beef Pho

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Spending time in the cottage kitchen in winter is one of the best ways to stay warm, likewise, having a big bowl of seductively soothing and aromatic pho is also another layer of added comfort.

I’ve tried a number of different variations when making this Vietnamese dish, from a super easy cheats method using stock cubes to the the more time consuming 48 hr bone broth method. I’ve settled on this one though as it’s the right balance of time and ease that mean I feel like it’s been a labour of love without it being a pain in the arse.

I’m lucky enough to have my beloved Derek Jones Butchers close by who, for a donation in the charity pot, will generously furnish me with some big beef bones. Make friends with your butchers, they are your allies and offer a wealth of knowledge along with their gentle pisstaking and camaraderie. Basically if they don’t take the piss out of me for something when I go in, I begin to worry.

I add a splash of vinegar to my bone broth once it is simmering, not only does it help bring all the impurities up to the surface for skimming (when it bubbles up upon addition), but the vinegar helps extract the minerals from the bones for extra nourishing broth.

This is not a traditional pho but rather one that I keep coming back to making again and again whenever the call of the bones takes me. It’s particularly good if you are feeling under the weather or recovering from anything that’s had you on your back. If you can’t be bothered to make your own stock then a couple of good cubes dissolved in hot water will do, just don’t forget to add all the broth aromatics.

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Beef Pho

Ingredients:

For the bone broth:

  • Beef bones
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 200g ginger, unpeeled but sliced
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tblsp fish sauce
  • salt and pepper

flat ribbon rice noodles

To serve:

  • sirloin or fillet steak, very finely sliced
  • tenderstem broccoli
  • thinly sliced butternut squash or carrot
  • spring onion, chopped
  • fresh chilli, finely sliced,
  • beansprouts
  • coriander
  • fresh lime

 

Method:

  1. Put your bones into a big pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer, foam will rise to the surface. Boil for 10 minutes then drain, rinse under cold water then return the bones to the pot, cover with water and then bring to a simmer.
  2. Once simmering add the vinegar, if foam bubbles up simply remove it.
  3. Char the ginger in a dry pan then add to the pot along with the onion, garlic, star anise, cinnamon and coriander. Simmer for a good 8-12 hours with the lid on, topping up the water as you need it. Leave to cool overnight.
  4. The next day you will see a thick layer of fat has formed, scoop this off and return it to a simmer, simmer away for another 4-6 hours or longer if you prefer. I often cook mine for a total of 24 hours. Add the fish sauce and season to taste.
  5. Once ready to eat, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions then divide between your bowls. Add your sliced beef then ladle over the hot broth and garnish. Serve with a big squeeze of lime and a pat on the back for being so awesome.

 

Quick Kelp Noodles and Fermented Coconut Nectar

Having lived in both Hong Kong and Japan and spent many months in the Philippines, it surprises me that whilst Chinese and Japanese food is widely eaten in the UK, Filipino food has never really caught on. It’s a shame as Filipino culture really is centred around food and family and if you haven’t tried it then you really are missing out on a feast of culinary delights.

I’m going to write a separate blog post all about Philippine food but for now this is my favourite quick noodle dish that incorporates Chinese, Japanese and Filipino products beautifully and is amazing at using up leftover salad leaves and veg.

My cupboards are full of sauces, condiments and pickles from around the world. This noodle dish uses dried kelp and Japanese noodles called Demae Ramen made by Nissin and they have been my favourite noodles since I was about 10 years old.  We had them for breakfast most days before school in Hong Kong and their chicken noodles remain my favourite breakfast and, when called for, most reliable hangover remedy to date! Spiced fermented coconut water is not for the feint hearted.  The coconut water has been fermented with chillies, garlic, ginger, salt and sweet peppers to produce a potent sweet-spicy vinegar that is completely addictive (well for me anyway).

Just take a handful of dried kelp strands and add them to water that has had the noodle flavour sachet added and cook for a few minutes before adding your noodles.  Chuck in any leftover bits of veg – broccoli, peas, cabbage, whatever is floating in the bottom of your fridge really.  Cook for a minute then tip into a big bowl, cover with leftover salad, pour over your spiced fermented coconut water, some Chinese chillies preserved in oil and some dried garlic slivers and you have an amazing bowl of loveliness.