Twelve months ago (hard to believe how fast last year passed by) I was in London working on my latest cook book for best ever publishers Ryland, Peters & Small. The book, Oodles of Noodles was published later in the year and has been very well received – it’s always a thrill to know that not only has a book been published, but people have bought, read and cooked from it – so I wanted to share some of the recipes over the next few weeks.
The recipes were inspired by my travels throughout Asia as well as my years spent in Sydney which is chock full of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Korean restaurants. Hopefully you will enjoy cooking and eating them as much as I did researching, developing, writing and testing the recipes.
I also hope you enjoy the evocative images so beautifully shot by Ian Wallace and styled by the very talented stylist Tony Hutchinson. Thanks also to to Sonia, Leslie and Julia at RPS.
I am beginning with the title recipe, a fabulous Vietnamese soup. Enjoy…….
Vietnamese beef pho
When I am visiting a city with a Vietnamese population I always try and make a trip to wherever the majority of Vietnamese have settled so I can treat myself to an authentic beef pho. It’s the large baskets of colourful herbs and condiments that give this classic soup its freshness and that unique flavour and texture I love so much.
1 kg beef short ribs
5 cm piece root ginger, sliced and bruised
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 whole star anise, bruised
2 cinnamon sticks, bruised
400 g dried rice stick noodles
350 g beef fillet, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
juice 1 lime
125 g bean sprouts, trimmed
2 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
a handful each of fresh Thai basil, Vietnamese mint and coriander
6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
Put the beef ribs in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer fast for 10 minutes then drain and wash ribs. Return ribs to the pan and add 2 litres more cold water along with the ginger, onion, garlic, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 11/2 hours or until the meat is tender.
Remove the ribs from the stock and set aside to cool. Thinly shred the meat discarding bones. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and let cool. Refrigerate both the meat and the stock overnight.
The next day, soak the noodles in hot water for 20 minutes, drain and shake dry. Divide noodles between 4 large soup bowls. Meanwhile, remove the layer of fat from the cold stock and return the pan to the heat until boiling. Stir in the shredded meat, raw beef, fish sauce, salt, sugar and lime juice. Spoon the soup over the noodles and top with the bean sprouts. Serve soup with a plate of the garnishes in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves.