VIETNAMESE RECIPES | Almost two years ago a colleague gave me the idea of starting a food blog. Curious and whimsical, I went on with the idea, but I never thought I would enjoy it so much. Neither did I think that it would be so challenging. It isn’t just about writing and explaining recipes step by step. You have to constantly interrupt your cooking in order to take photos. Then, those photos need to be classified and edited before being published. But learning all this was so much worth it! A whole new world was opening before my eyes! Just google “food design”, “food photography” or “food art” and you will see that our planet is in a total food frenzy! I spoke to many of you who asked me to create an English version of my blog … and I listened because I was so touched by your interest.
Today, here I am, translating the first recipe I published almost two years ago from French to English: my mum’s phở bò. So what is it actually? Well, I would describe it as a bowl of beef broth filled with rice noodles, slices of beef filet, and fresh aromatic herbs. It is everywhere to be found in the streets of Saigon and every Vietnamese mum knows how to make it. It is a little bit like salsa bolognese: there are as many versions as there are mums and everyone pretends his mum makes the best phở bò in the world!
For the broth
- 500 gr of meaty beef soup bones (the more bones the better; you can even add some marrow bones)
- 1 carrot
- 1 turnip
- 1 onion
- some ginger
- 1 small handful of star anises
- nước mắm (fish sauce)
- optional: 1 small handful of cloves
- optional: 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
- optional: fresh coriander roots
For the garnish
- 1 pack of rice noodles phở style (shaped like tagliatelle)
- 500 gr of beef filet
- 1 pack of soybean sprouts
- 1 bunch of thaï sweet basil
- 1 bunch of a herb called ngò gai in Vietnamese, and culantro in English
- 1 bunch of cilantro (if possible, keep the roots and use them for the broth)
- 1 bunch of spring onions
- 1 lime
- hoi sin sauce
- spicy chilli sauce like e.g. « sriracha »
- optional: fresh chilli
Put the beef bones on a boil for 5 to 10 minutes to get rid of impurities, rinse them, and put them back in a casserole filled with water. Put on a boil then reduce the heat. While waiting for the water to boil, grill all the spices for the broth, as well as the vegetables (except the coriander roots). Add them to the broth and season with a bit of salt.
Let the broth simmer over low heat for at least 3 hours to let the spices release all their flavour and carefully skim the foam that gets to the surface. When the broth is ready, season it to your taste with salt, nước mắm, and a tiny bit of sugar.
While the broth is simmering, cook the rice noodles for 8 minutes in boiling water with salt and white vinegar, rinse them with cold water first, then with lukewarm water, and divide them into 5 to 6 big bowls. Slice the beef filet very thin and add them in the bowls. Wash and chop the spring onions and the coriander and add some in all bowls. Keep the rest for when serving the bowls. Wash all aromatic herbs and put them in a dish. Cut the lime into quarters.
When the broth is ready, you can also take out the meaty beef bones, cut out the meat around them and garnish the bowls with beef slices. Pour some hot broth into the bowls. Ideally, the beef slices are cut so thin that they cook as the broth is slowly being poured into the bowls.
Now each guest can garnish his bowl with coriander, spring onions and aromatic herbs; squeeze a lime quarter; and season the broth with hoi sin sauce and chilli sauce to his taste!