Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vietnamese Pho with Egg

I LOVE pho! If you aren't yet acquainted with this delicious Vietnamese soup, let me introduce you. Pho (pronounced 'fuh', like funk) is a Vietnamese staple; the daily meal, but honestly, this is what I'd serve at my wedding (if and when I ever get married). The key to good pho is the broth. After that, you can pretty much put whatever you'd like in it. Typical pho ingredients include thinly sliced rare beef, beef tendon, and tripe (as in pho dac biet, my fav!), but can also include seafood, mushrooms, egg, etc. All good pho is surely made with a large helping of vermicelli noodles. It's up to you to garnish the dish, but the usual ingredients are scallions, chinese basil, bean sprouts (which I generally omit), hot green chiles, a squeeze of Sriracha, and a teaspoon of hoisin. Yumm! My mouth is watering right now! Ok, so here's the recipe for the pho pictured.

Makes 2 servings
2 cups good chicken, vegetable, or beef stock
2 cups water
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon nuoc cham or nuoc mam
1 teaspoon hoisin
2 handfuls dried vermicelli noodles
4 eggs
1 scant cup sliced shitake mushrooms (fresh or dried)
for garnish:
scallions, thinly sliced
chinese basil
bean sprouts
hot red and green chiles

1 Pour boiling hot water over the dried vermicelli and allow to hydrate for 20 minutes. If using dried mushrooms, hydrate the mushrooms in a separate bowl using about a 1 cup of boiling water.
2 Meanwhile, combine stock, water, mirin, soy, nuoc cham, and hoisin in a 4qt pot and bring to a simmer.
3 While the stock is heating, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Salt gently and lower heat slightly. Stir the water to create a whirlpool and crack one egg into the center, increase heat to high and allow to cook until whites bind together, about 2 minutes. Once cooked, remove to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the other eggs.
4 If using dried mushrooms, add mushrooms and soaking liquid to the simmering broth, stopping before reaching the grit at the bottom. If using fresh mushrooms, add them to the broth and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5 Remove soup from heat. Drain vermicelli thoroughly and distribute among serving bowls. Pour soup over the noodles and top each serving with two eggs and scallions. Serve with garnishes on a plate.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tomato Soup with Chile Squid

This is a recipe from my new favorite cookbook The Ultimate Soup Bible (consultant editor Anne Sheasby) which you can find on You'll prolly see a lot more postings here from this source. The recipes are amazing, as are the pictures. Very inspirational! :)

So this is the first recipe I've made using my own home-made vegetable stock. It's also the dish that introduced me to the wonderful world of tarragon. It's such an incredible herb, slightly sweet, a splash of pastis, yumm!
So here are the recipes.

Vegetable Stock
2 leeks, roughly chopped
3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 large onion, unpeeled, roughly chopped
2 pieces fresh ginger root, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
mushroom stalks
tomato peelings
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 bay leaves
a bunch of parsley stalks
3 springs of fresh thyme
1 spring of fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
15 cups cold water

1 Put all the ingredients into a stockpot or large pan. Bring slowly to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.
2 Allow to cool. Strain, then discard the vegetables. The stock is ready to use.

Tomato Soup with Chile Squid
4 small squid
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5 lbs ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
scant 2 cups vegetable stock
about 1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 red chiles, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
salt and ground black pepper
crusty bread, to serve

1 To clean squid, grasp the head and tentacles in one hand and pull the body away with the other. Discard the intestines that come away with the head. Cut the tentacles away from the head in one piece and reserve them; discard the head. Pull the plastic-like quill out of the main body and remove and roe that may be present. Pull off the fins from either side of the body pouch and rub off the semi-tranparent, moddled skin. Wash the prepared squid under cold running water.
2 Cut the squid into rings and set these aside with the tentacles.
3 Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook for 4-5 mintues, until just softened. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, 3 minutes. Add half the stock and simmer for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are very soft.
4 Cool the soup, then rub it through a strainer and return it to the rinsed-out pan (I actually put it through the food processor instead). Stir in the remaining stock and the sugar, and reheat gently.
5 Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan. Add the squid rings and tentacles, and the chiles. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously, then remove from the heat and stir in the chopped tarragon.
6 Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the soup tastes slighly sharp, add a little extra sugar. Ladle the soup into four bowls and spoon the chile squid in the center. Serve immediately with crusty bread.