Saturday, January 21, 2006

Banh Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup) Recipe

3 large onions
1 tablespoon peanut oil
5 pounds combination of beef and chicken bones, meaty
4 slices ginger julienned
2 carrots, julienned
1 small cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 pound fresh bean sprouts
1/2 pound beef sirloin, sliced very thin across grain
1 green onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 serrano chiles, sliced (wimps only, devein them)
2 limes, cut into wedges
8 ounces rice sticks, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained
3 tablespoons Nuoc Mam (fish sauce)
Fresh black pepper, to taste

Slice 2 of the onions into 1/4-inch pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a frying pan. Add the sliced onion, and cook, stirring until the outside has browned. Remove and drain. Slice the remaining onion into paper-thin slices and set aside.

Rinse the bones and place in a stock pot. Cover with cold water. Bring slowly to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered. For a clear broth, skim off foam. After 10 - 15 minutes, add browned onion, ginger, carrots, cinnamon, *cardamom, star anise, cloves, garlic and peppercorns. Bring to boil. Simmer the stock, partially covered for 6 to 12 hours, skimming regularly. If necessary add more water to keep the bones covered. Strain the stock, skim off, discard any fat.

At serving time, arrange the sliced beef on a platter. Garnish with the reserved white onion and green onion. On another platter, arrange the bean sprouts, cilantro and limes. Meanwhile, plunge the rice sticks into boiling water to heat; drain. Place equal portions of noodles in each soup bowl. Cover to keep warm. Heat beef stock to boiling; season with fish sauce and pepper. Pour into a soup tureen or chafing dish. At the table, place the soup on a portable warmer to keep hot. Offer each guest a bowl of warmed rice noodles. Each diner adds some beef and onion to the bowl. Ladle the hot stock over the meat, stirring to cook the meat. Add the bean sprouts, cilantro, chiles and lime to taste. Enjoy with chopsticks and a soup spoon.

Optional: pass fresh basil leaves, corinader, additional chiles, fish sauce and ground peanuts at the table.


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