PHO NOODLES WITH BEEF, HANOI STYLE
Note: This recipe, adapted from Nancie McDermott's "Quick and Easy Vietnamese," provides a blueprint for a streamlined home version of pho. It involves a few steps, but none of them is difficult, and with several pairs of hands, everything can be ready in about an hour. Although the star anise is often found in grocery store spice racks, and lends an authentic, slightly licorice flavor to the broth, leave it out if you can't find it. Serve with chopsticks or fork, along with a big soup spoon for broth for each of the diners.
For the broth:
• 8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
• 1 lb. round steak, sliced crosswise into 1-in. strips
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 3 whole cloves
• 3 star anise
• 1 unpeeled medium onion, quartered lengthwise
• 1/2 c. peeled and very coarsely chopped fresh ginger
• 1/2 lb. dried rice noodles, often labeled banh pho (linguine wide)
• 2 tbsp. fish sauce
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 11/4 lb. boneless rib-eye, strip, or flank steak, trimmed of fat
• 3 c. fresh bean sprouts
• 1 c. very thinly sliced onions or shallots
• 1 c. coarsely chopped fresh Asian basil, Italian basil, cilantro or mint or a combination of fresh herbs (chop at very last minute)
• 1/2 c. thinly sliced green onion
• 1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
• 2 fresh jalapeño chiles, cut diagonally into thin ovals, optional
To prepare the broth: Combine chicken broth, steak slices, cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise in stockpot or big saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat for 1 minute or until hot. Add onion and ginger. Cook on one side till nicely browned but not burnt. Turn to sear other side. Cook till well browned and fragrant. Add these to stock pot with broth and simmer for 1 hour.
To prepare the noodles: Meanwhile, soften rice noodles by immersing in big bowl of warm water until bright white and flexible. Drain well.
Remove broth from heat. Stir in fish sauce, sugar and salt. Strain into large pan, discarding all solids. (Can be made and kept chilled in the refrigerator up to 2 days ahead of time.)
To assemble: About 20 minutes before serving, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Cut the flank, rib-eye or strip steak in half, crosswise. Put both pieces of steak down in broth to cook to desired doneness (10 minutes until medium rare). Remove, cool a little. Slice thinly into bite-sized strips, and set aside.
Drop softened rice noodles into the boiling water. Immediately remove from heat and set aside so noodles can sit in the water for 10 minutes. Stir once or twice to separate and let them cook evenly.
Meanwhile, bring broth to rolling boil.
Drain noodles well. Divide among 4 big bowls. Have each diner top the noodles, as desired, with the steak, bean sprouts, shallot or onion, herbs, green onions, lime juice and chiles.
Ladle hot broth (about 11/2 cups) over noodles in each bowl. Serve at once.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 555 Fat 13 g Sodium 1,410 mg
Carbohydrates 67 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 108 mg
Protein 47 g Cholesterol 82 mg Dietary fiber 5 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 4 bread/starch, 5 lean meat.