A recent 18 day visit to Cambodia and Vietnam, included a week-long cruise along the Mekong River from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City. It was fascinating to visit rural villages, silk farms, temples, museums, and bustling markets, and to ride in an oxcart, tut tut (tuk tuk), and trishaw. It was like stepping back in time, where everything and everyone moved at a slower pace. The major cities, though, are vibrant and the food is fresh and delicious. One food favorite is rice noodle soup with beef or chicken (or not), and it’s called Pho Bo.
Pho, which is made from bone broth is one of the most popular trends today and has gained the reputation as a nutritional powerhouse.
VIETNAMESE PHO BO
Preparation time: 15 minutes. Roasting time: 1 hour.
Cooking time: 4 to 8 hours. Cooling time: 30 minutes. Serves: 4
2 lb beef bones (suggest shank and knee bones)
1 large carrot, sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 quarts water/beef stock
5 pcs star anise
5 slices fresh ginger
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in pieces
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. Fish Sauce
Preheat oven to 425ºF, Place beef bones on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven until browned, about 1 hour. Sauté carrot and onion with the star anise, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, salt and fish sauce. Caramelize nicely until golden brown. Add the bones, water/beef stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 4 to 8 hours. Leave to cool, then strain off the stock. Correct the seasoning, to taste.
Condiments and Garnish for Soup:
Rice Noodles (Cooked)
Long Leaves (Vietnamese Mint, Perilla leaves)
Red Chili, finely chopped
Sweet Basil/hot basil
Sliced Green Onions
Note: The broth is the secret to a great Pho. You can skip the roasting of the bones and simmer less time, but the flavor will not be as good.
SAUTEED MORNING GLORY AND GARLIC
Preparation time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 3 minutes. Serves: 4
A big bunch of morning glory or water spinach
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup vegetable stock
Garnish: Squeeze of fresh lemon. Chopped peanuts.
Cut the morning glory or water spinach into 4-6 inch lengths after rinsing it briefly under cold water. Heat the oil in a wok until it is really hot. Add the garlic, stir-fry for about 20 seconds. Next, add the morning glory along with the fish sauce and oyster sauce. Stir-fry for another 40 seconds. Add stock and allow to heat, for another ten seconds. Take off the heat, garnish, and serve.