Homemade Beef Pho

Homemade Beef Pho

The more J and I cook at home, the more we find amazing recipes of meals we once thought were super complicated and therefore only available in a restaurant. Pho is one of those dishes. With the complexly deep flavors and food coma inducing warmth, we were sure we couldn’t make it in our own kitchen. We were so wrong. J found this recipe from Sarcastic Cooking (love!) and it was dead on. We adjusted a few things to our taste and suggest you do too.

Ingredients For the Broth:
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (we used vegetable)
2 Yellow Onions, halved (we ended up quartering them)
1, 3-inch Piece of Fresh Ginger, halved (we left this whole but kind of crushed to infuse more flavor)
2 Cloves Garlic (we used minced)
4 Quarts Low-Sodium Beef Stock
In a tea ball we put: 1 Cinnamon Stick (broken),  3 Star Anise Pieces, 3 Whole Cloves
⅓ Cup Fish Sauce
3 Tablespoons Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
Button mushrooms (we used about a cup sliced)
If you do not want to invest in cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves, some stores sell pho seasoning packs. But it’s worth it to have your own, plus, with a tea ball removing it is simple!

Ingredients for the Pho:
1, 12-Ounce Package of Bahn Pho or Udon Noodles (Flat Rice Noodles) These ended up being hard to find so we just used glass noodles (thin rice noodles).
1 Pound Flank Steak or charcoal steak
2 Thai Chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced (we left these out)
2 Handfuls Bean Sprouts (fresh is crunchier and we loved it!) 
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 Bunch Fresh Mint
½ White Onion, sliced paper-thin
Sriracha or Chili Garlic Sauce for Serving
Lime Wedges for Serving

Directions:
Fair warning, these directions look complicated, but really aren’t. Promise.  In a large stockpot, heat the  oil over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger and garlic when the oil just starts to simmer/shimmer. Cook, turning a few times, for about 10 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low. Simmer, partially covered, for at least 50 minutes and up to 3 hours if you like a richer flavor. (It is absolutely worth it to let it simmer for 3 hours, do that). After desired taste is reached, strain broth (we didn’t strain the broth, we just removed the tea ball of spices) and add back to the pot. Note: If you are not serving the soup right away, you can store the strained broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

This is the best trick ever: Place the beef into the freezer for at least 15 minutes. This makes it easier to slice.  Bring the broth to a slow simmer over low heat. Add rice noodles and cook according to package directions. Once the noodles are cooked, remove pot from heat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the beef as thin as possible. Ladle some broth into a few deep bowls. Add noodles to bowls. Serve Sriracha, bean sprouts, herbs, onions, lime wedges, and beef on the side so each person can add in what they want to their pho.

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My opinion:
This makes a lot. Enough for three of us to have two large bowls each and quite a bit left over. It’s in the freezer waiting for one of those cold, rainy late fall days when soup sounds best. I love this dish. I couldn’t eat it fast enough. 

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Hot and sour soup

homemade hot and sour soup

J grew up eating the decadent hot and sour soup at King Doh, authentic Peking and Szechuan cuisine. After several years of trial and error, we finally found a recipe that is really close to the original. To celebrate the Chinese New Year last night, we made a big pot.

Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken stock
2 ounces dried black mushrooms (we had trouble finding these and had the must success using fresh shiitake mushrooms)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon red chili paste (in a pinch, we combined Thai chili oil, Sriracha sauce and Hoisin sauce to make a paste)
1 small can bamboo shoots
1 small can water chestnuts (you can buy them already sliced)
1 small can straw mushrooms
18 ounces firm tofu, drained and cubed
three small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons sesame oil
green onion, chopped (to garnish)

Directions:
If using dried mushrooms, reconstitute them in water according to package directions. Heat oil in wok or large pot. When the oil is hot, add ginger, chile paste and chicken, cook for about two-minute. Add bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and mushrooms, cook for about a minute. In a bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, salt, pepper and sugar and pour into wok. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes (don’t rush this. The simmering is what seals in the hot and sour flavors). Add tofu and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch and water and add to soup and cook until thickened (this will make the soup cloudy and thick, but don’t add too much cornstarch or it will gelatinize . Stir soup in one direction to get current going then add beaten egg, it will look feathery. Stir the soup brining the contents from the bottom to the top> Garnish soup with green onion and serve.

My Opinion:
Make sue you leave the soup on low for seconds. The second bowl is always better than the first. The only thing we might add in the future is some shrimp or an onion. The soup is even better the next day!

Here’s a photo of the King Doh version.
King Doh Hot and Sour Soup

Gyoza Sauce

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We go through quite a bit of this sauce. We use it on everything from homemade potstickers (we’re still tweaking that recipe) to sushi to seared tuna and as a dipping sauce for just about everything. We used to buy several bottles of this stuff at a time when they went on sale, but we finally found the best recipe to make it ourselves. Considering how often we use it, this is definitely saving us some money!

Ingredients:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
few squirts of sriracha (Rooster or homemade) sauce
1 pinch sugar
bit of minced fresh ginger

Directions:
Mix the ingredients together. We started in a mixing bowl and then transferred to an empty soy sauce bottle. Refrigerate.

My Opinion:
I can’t live without this stuff.

Sticky Coconut Chicken

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have recently noticed, I’ve given in to Pinterest. I’ve loved finding new recipes and recently tried the Sticky Coconut Chicken (originally from this blog). The rave reviews were an understatement! This dish was amazingly flavorful, the chicken super tender and just a hint of sweet enhanced the entire dish. I’ll only make two small changes when we have this dish again.

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the original recipe suggest thighs, but we didn’t have any).
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper (we used white)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (we’ll use more next time)

Marinade chicken in coconut milk, ginger, pepper and red pepper flakes at least one hour (the longer the better! We let it marinade for about two hours, but it only gets better the longer you let it marinate). Grill (since it’s winter here, we used the George Foreman).

Glaze:
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar (we actually used a bit less)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (will need to add more next time!)

Directions:
While the chicken is grilling, bring above ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture is reduced and thickened, about 8-10 minutes (actually took us about 20, but I kept it on medium heat so the mixture didn’t burn). Once the mixture starts getting really thick, immediately take it off the heat! Glaze both sides of chicken the last few minutes of grilling and serve chicken over rice. We used the remaining glaze to dip the chicken and added it over the rice.

My Opinion:
Amazing! With a little extra spice (red pepper flakes and maybe some more garlic) and a longer marinating time, this will become a regular dish in our house!

Pumpkin Soup


In addition to the pumpkin ravioli we made for Halloween, we saved enough pumpkin to also make this delicious pumpkin soup, modified from this Food.com recipe. It was easy, filling and perfect for a chilly fall evening.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 celery ribs, diced
1 onion, chopped well
1 tablespoon flour1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon ground ginger1/4 teaspoon nutmeg3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 lbs diced pumpkin, roasted and peeled
1 cup half-and-halfchopped green onion

Directions:

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery and onion and saute until onion is browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and cubed pumpkin. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add to blender one cup at a time and blend until smooth. Add half and half and blend. Serve hot with green onion garnish.
My opinion:
Tasted closer to butternut squash soup than pumpkin, but still delicious. Next time we’ll increase the spices a bit more and use fresh ginger.