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Posts Tagged ‘pho’

Last night I made some noodle soup using Vietnamese rice noodles, pho-like broth, and Japanese fish cakes. Not sure what to call this dish, so I’ll just call it Japanese Pho. It was very simple to make and actually tasted really really good.

First thing I did was make the broth base. I crushed 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds and 1 star anise with my pestle and mortar. Once they were ground to an almost fine powder I added 1 teaspoon of ground cloves. I wish I had some ginger, I would have bashed that up and added it as well. At any rate, I had 3 cups of vegetable broth in my fridge that needed to be used up so I poured that into a pot, dumped the spices in, and let it boil for about 10 minutes. After that I turned off the heat and let it sit while I prepped the rest of the dish.

My ingredient list included 4 green onions sliced into inch length pieces, a small head of broccoli chopped up, two small carrots cut into thin strips, 2/3’s of a pack of shiitake sliced, half a cube of silken tofu diced, about half a container of baby spinach, about 4-5 ounces of bean sprouts, and 3 fish cakes from the Tensuke Market (these fish cakes had slivers of carrot and peas in them, one of my favorites).

In a clean pot I strained the broth base discarding the grit. I made sure to press the grit though to make sure I got all of the flavorful liquid. To that I added about 3 cups of water, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of dashi-no-moto, and 3 tablespoons of sesame oil. Then I tossed in the green onions, shiitake, and broccoli. I brought all of that up to a boil and let it go for about 7 minutes while toasting the fish cakes. After that I added the carrots, tofu, and baby spinach for about 3 minutes. That was it, I turned off the heat.

While the soup was cooking I boiled some rice noodles in a separate pot with just plain water. I did that according to package instructions and then drained.

In my serving bowls I first put in the noodles. Then I ladled the soup on top and squeezed in some sriracha. On top of the soup I put in some bean sprouts and garnished those with some cilantro. I placed the halved fish cakes around the edge.

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Alright, so I’ve been working on perfecting a hamburger that tastes like a bowl of Pho for a while now so that I could enter it into a contest that has a nice payout for the winner (wish me luck everyone!). I think I finally nailed it Saturday night. Here’s how it all goes down.

Instead of using regular old ground chuck I picked up a 2 pound brisket. Pho commonly uses brisket or rump, so I wanted to get that type of beefy flavor for these burgers. You could have your butcher grind it up for you, but what’s the fun in that? I don’t have a meat grinder (anyone seeking to get me a gift for whatever reason take note, I would gladly accept a meat grinder) but that didn’t stop me from giving it a go.

First thing I did was cut the brisket up into 1 inch cubes. I threw all of the meat into my food processor and pulsed it until it turned in the consistency I was looking for. I had to be careful not to over process it as that would start to melt the fat and ruin the texture. Then I put the meat in a bowl and prepared all of the seasonings.

The spice mix included ground cloves, cardamom, ground cinnamon, star anise, and coriander seeds.

With my pestle and mortar I first had to grind up the whole seeds. I took enough seeds out of the star anise to measure about 1/4 teaspoon (cracking out the seeds is a pain!). Then I cracked open enough cardamom pods to get me 1/4 teaspoon of its seeds. I also measured about 3/4 teaspoon of coriander seeds. I ground those up into a fine powder and then added 1/2 teaspoon each of the ground cinnamon and ground cloves. I also mixed in there 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of pure cane sugar.

Once my dry spices were mixed together I zested a lime to get about 1 tablespoon, and I minced up 1 tablespoon of ginger and 1 tablespoon of garlic.

I also sliced up 4 green onions, just the white and pale green parts.

I put all of my seasonings in the bowl with the meat and then added 2 tablespoons each of fish sauce and sesame oil. With a metal spoon I mixed it all together until the flavors were evenly distributed. It’s important to use a metal spoon when mixing things into burger meat. When you use your hands the body heat can melt the fat, you don’t want that. You want the fat to mix in just like the other ingredients so that it melts properly when cooking keeping the meat nice and juicy.

After the meat was mixed nicely I let it rest for about 10 minutes to let the flavors settle in. Then, I wetted my hands and formed 6 patties.

I heated the grill up to a medium-high heat, brushed it off, and oiled it. Just before putting the burgers on I lightly salted both sides of the patties. With the fish sauce there’s no need for a lot of salt, but sprinkling a little on just before grilling helps get a nice crust on the outside of the meat. I let the cook for about 6 minutes or so on each side.

When the burgers were cooked to my liking I put some sesame seed buns on the grill to lightly toast them. That only took a minute.

To assemble the burgers I placed one grilled patty on each bottom bun and squeezed one wedge of lime on each patty. On top of each patty placed 1 ounce bean sprouts, then 3 basil leaves and 3 cilantro sprigs. 1 tablespoon of Sriracha got squeezed on the underside of each top half of bun and they were ready to go.

For the side Yuki wanted to make Japanese-style potato salad. She skinned and diced two large russet potatoes and then tossed them into boiling water. She let them boil for about 15 minutes until they were cooked through. Then she mashed them up with enough mayonnaise to keep them nice and moist and a little mustard for flavor. She mixed in a cucumber that she skinned and chopped up, a carrot that she also chopped up, and some black forest ham that she cut into short slivers. That all got mixed together well and provided a nice cool counterpoint to the spicy burgers.

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For Meatless Monday last night I made a Cambodian-style noodle soup. It’s very similar to Vietnamese Pho, but the broth is slightly different. Pho usually has star anise and cinnamon in the broth, I didn’t use either of those. Stylistically though, their very similar. And why not? They are neighboring countries after all.

To get the Cambodian flavor I used ginger and lemongrass. I left the skin on the ginger and the tough outer layers of the lemongrass in tact. The ginger was sliced and those marks you see on the lemongrass are from banging it with the back of my knife. That loosens up the fibers and helps release the oils.

I put them in a sauce pan along with 1 quart of vegetable stock, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of water, and a lot of fresh cracked white pepper. I brought that all to a boil and let the flavors steep for about 20 minutes. Then I strained the broth into a large bowl and let it sit until later on in the cooking.

My ingredient list included bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms (not Cambodian, but nevertheless delicious and healthy), fresh made tofu from the HMart that I cubed, ginger and garlic that I minced, asparagus that I cut up (again, not Cambodian), half of an eggplant diced, green onions that were sliced about 2 inches in length, and rice noodles.

I started by heating up about 1/4 cup of soy oil and a few tablespoons of sesame oil. I let the ginger and garlic go until they were fragrant, about 1 minute, then added the green onion and asparagus. Once they started to slightly soften I added the eggplant. That took about 5 minutes until it was mostly cooked through. Then I added the tofu and enoki. Those both heat through relatively quickly, about 2 minutes. After all of those vegetables were heated I poured the broth in and let it come to a boil, then turned the heat down and let it simmer, covered, for only about 5 minutes.

During that time I cooked the noodles according to package instructions. Once cooked through I drained them thoroughly and divided them up into the serving bowls and ladled the soup on top. I topped all of that with the bean sprouts, some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Half-way through eating I realized that something was missing….SRIRACHA!!! I took my sriracha out, squeezed a little into the broth, and all was good.

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