…tasty bites to stimulate your taste buds..

Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Pho Bo Vietnamese Beef Noodle

Today, I am going back to my roots and sharing with you one of my all time favorite dishes, pho bo, or Vietnamese beef noodle.  Pho is a northern Vietnamese dish that has become well known worldwide.  Whether you are traveling in Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada, or America, you will likely find a restaurant with this wonderful soup.  If you can find a Vietnamese community, you can find a pho restaurant.  I grew up on pho, eating it for breakfast and lunch from the street vendors near my house.  And during the cold, rainy nights, it was the perfect soup for dinner.  My dad, a northerner, passed on his family recipe to my mom who came from south Vietnam.  Pho has a wonderful broth, flavored with star anise, Saigon cinnamon, charred onion, ginger, and many other spices.  The original recipe does not call for chicken stock, but my mom, who has more than 50 years of cooking experience under her belt, passed on her secret that one can of chicken stock adds even more flavor to the soup.  The daikon also adds a hint of sweetness lessening the amount of sugar needed.  Similar to many other Vietnamese noodle dishes, pho is served with lots of greens, mainly hung que (Thai basil) and ngo gai (which I do not know the English translation).  I also like the texture of bean sprouts in mine.  It adds a bit of crunch.  And of course, a bowl of pho is incomplete without the hoisin sauce and Sriracha!  People like to add brisket, tendon, tripe, and flank to their pho, but I enjoy mine with round steak and bo vien.  I am happy to share with you my mom’s recipe and hope it will send you in the right direction on your pho adventure.

Ingredients

A handful of spices (fennel, clove, coriander seeds, star anise, cinnamon)
1 large white onion
2 pieces of ginger, halved lengthwise
1 lb of daikon
1 tbsp of salt
2 lbs of beef bone
6 cups of water
1 can of chicken stock
¼ cup of fish sauce
3-4  tbsps of sugar
Rice noodles
1 lb of round steak cut in thin slices (ask your local butcher to prepare for you)
1 lb of meat balls  (bo vien from Kim Son)
Green onions and cilantro (cut in small pieces)
Bean sprouts
Hung que (basil leaves)
Ngo gai
Lime wedges
Hoisin and Sriracha sauces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Place the ginger, onion, and spices in the oven and broil for 10 minutes.

Clean the beef bones with warm water and place them in a large stockpot.  Add the daikon, ginger, onion, spices, salt, and water to the pot.  Cook on medium heat for  three to four hours.  Remove any scum.  Strain the broth and transfer to a clean stockpot.  Add the chicken stock, fish sauce, sugar to the new pot and adjust the seasoning to your liking.  Let it simmer for another hour.

To cook the rice noodle, in a clean pot, bring water to a boil.  Immerse the rice noodle in the boiling water for a few seconds so you do not overcook the noodle.

When ready to serve, place the bean sprouts and noodle in the bowl.  Place the steak and meat balls on top.  Add the hot broth to the bowl, and garnish with cilantro and green onion.

Serve with hung que, ngo gai, lime wedges, and condiments.

“Banh Canh Cua” Vietnamese Rice Noodle with Crab Soup

I am so happy that crab season lasts longer this year.  I plan on making “banh canh cua” or Vietnamese fat rice noodle with crab soup.  Banh canh cua is one of my favorite soups.  There are two versions, pork soup and crab soup.  I grew up with both but being a seafood fanatic, I enjoy the crab version much more.  The noodles look fat like udon, but are made with rice or tapioca, not wheat.  The tapioca noodles are clear after boiling and taste more chewy compared to the rice noodles.  This dish brings back fond memories of my pharmacy rotation in Vietnam.  My classmates and I would go to Ben Thanh market in Saigon for lunch or dinner and order banh canh from the various food stands.  The atmosphere was always lively, great for eating and people watching.  I hope you find this soup tasty and comforting!

Ingredients

2 Dungeness crabs
10 cups of water
2 lbs of pork neck bones
¼ cup of fish sauce
¼ cup of sugar
2 pkg (15 oz) fat rice noodles (they look like udon)
1 lb of deveined shrimps
chili pepper and pepper to taste (optional)
cilantro and green onions for garnish

Directions

Fill a large stockpot with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Place the crabs in the water and steam for 15 minutes.  Save the crab stock.  Remove the meat from the body and claws, and save the juice from the body.  In a separate stockpot, fill 10 cups of water and cook the pork neck bones for 2 hours.  Pour the strained the pork stock, 2 cups of crab stock, and juice from the crabs into a separate stockpot.  Add fish sauce.  Let simmer for 30 minutes and remove any scum at the surface.  Add sugar to taste.

Boil the rice noodles until semi-clear.  Strain and leave the noodles in cold water so they do not expand.

When ready to serve, transfer the noodle to a serving bowl, top with crab meat and shrimps and then add soup.  Garnish with green onions, cilantro, pepper, and chili pepper.  Enjoy!

Berkeley: Café Rouge

Krystal, my sister-in-law, wanted to take us to lunch in Berkeley while we were in town.  Both Vu and I have never been to Berkeley even though we have lived in the bay area for a long time.  We all piled in the car and headed up north despite the pouring rain.  Our first stop was Café Rouge, on 4th street.  The restaurant was filled with people even at 11 A.M.  Known for its fresh meats and house-made charcuterie, we ordered coq au vin (Central Coast Farms chicken), baby back ribs, and grilled hanger steak.  I did not have the coq au vin but was told it was delicious and saw Krystal’s friend inhaled it.  Vu tried the baby back ribs but was not impressed.  No one can beat Phil’s BBQ baby back ribs!  If you know of a place, please let me know!  I had the hanger steak with French fries and aioli.  The steak was juicy and tender, but not as memorable as Ruth’s Chris in La Jolla, Celadon in Napa Valley, or LB Steak at Santana Row.  Overall, Café Rouge has a nice atmosphere for lunch if you are in the area, but definitely not worth an hour drive.

However, we did like the meat and pasta shop next door where you can find a variety of aged meats and international products for cooking and baking.  We ended up trying the “jamon iberico,” a type of cured ham produced in Spain from the black Iberian pig.  The first “jamones ibéricos” were released for sale in the US in 2007.  For $185 per pound, it definitely tasted better than prosciutto, buttery and smooth.  You need an acquired taste for dry-cured ham.  Personally, I have not acquired that taste and did not appreciate the “jamon iberico” as much as Vu did.  For the price, I was a bit disappointed.  If you get a chance, try it once!

The Bar

Bread Station

Daily Menu

Chamomile Tea

Kale Caesar Salad

Coq au Vin (Central Coast Farms chicken)

Baby Back Ribs

Grilled hanger steak

Jamon Iberico

In case you don’t believe me!

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