Phở – THE Vietnamese noodle soup

The Phở is a traditional Vietnamese dish. You can either prepare it with chicken or with beef. Bot soups are outstandingly enjoyable and you can even freeze the soup without the fresh ingredients to rewarm it another time. One chicken gives soup for up to ten portions of the dish!

Phở Bò / Phở Gà, THE Vietnamese noodle soup with beef / chicken, enriched with coriander, spring onion and sprouts of soy

The ready-to-eat Phở – an awesome dish out of the Vietnamese kitchen but not too easy to prepare

What you need: 1 soup hen (for Phở Gà)  or 1 decent piece of beef for soups (for Phở Bò), ginger rhizoma (zingiber officinale rhizoma), amomum tsaoko semen, 4 – 5 “stars” of star-anis (Illicium verum) and 3 cinnamon bars (cinnamomum verum) – or you use an already prepared seasoning mixture called Pho soup seasoning (or similar) and you take half of a package for a whole pot, sugar (1 big spoon), salt (1 teaspoon) and pepper (1 teaspoon), 1 – 2 onions. This is the ingredients for the soup itself. As inlay into the soup you need: Soy sprouts, coriander, spring onions, pho noodles, fish sauce, hoisin sauce and the classic red sriracha sauce, and for those who like it spiced up, fine sliced thai chili (optional)

How you do it: Cook the soup hen / the beef in a big pot and use as much water, so everything is covered. Put the lid while you cook it and start the seasoning just after some time. The hen has to be turned several times and all the meat will be done after about 90 min. (at least).

Pho Ga
Cooking the meat, either beef (meat for soups) or a whole chicken is cooked for a good time, to get tender meat and an enriched juice with the taste of a good soup. With the spices and fresh ingredients it gives the great flavor of a Phở.

The ginger is added first with the salt and the sugar, followed by the pho soup seasoning. You add it after 30 min. The onions and the pepper are added later, after about 60 min. of cooking. After 90 – 120 min. the meat is taken out of the soup and you have to peel off the meat of the chicken’s bones in quite fine stripes. The alternative (less work for Pho Bo): The beef is sliced into thin, small pieces. The meat is put aside. The noodles are cooked while you are busy peeling off the meat. You then slice coriander, spring onions, and chili, clean the soy sprouts and put everything aside. The noodles, when done, are washed with cold and warm water, so they don’t stick together too much.

The ingredients on one glance. The meat has to be cut very thin or peeled of the bones like I did it for the chicken in this picture.

The soup which you obtained from cooking the meats is portioned into a bowl, the mixed meats are added, as are the noodles and some spoons of all the different vegetable ingredients. The original taste is obtained if you spice up with hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and sriracha sauce.

Xíu mại – Vietnamese meatballs

This an easy recipe to prepare Vietnamese meatballs, called Xiu Mai. They are very tasty and steamcooked, therefore healthier than fried meatballs.

Xíu mại, are Vietnamese meatballs served with rice and salad, or for a sub… I learned the recipe from my friend Trang, because of a funny idea. When we got to know each other in Florida, we agreed to a bet, that we are not allowed to talk German to increase our English skills, and who failed had to cook. We called it the English bet.

What you need: 500 g of ground beef free of fat, 5 big spoons of oyster sauce, 3 medium sized onions, about 3  carrots, 2 medium sized tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar, sidedishes: green salad, rice or bread (you can eat it as sub as well)

How you do it: Onions and carrots are sliced in about cubic millimeter small pieces and mixed with the ground beef, salt (half of a big spoon), pepper (a teaspoon) and sugar (2 big spoons), as well as the oyster sauce (5 big spoons) are added and everything is properly mixed to obtain a homogenous mass. Out of that mass little balls are formed and they are all put into a bowl, on top of those balls the slices of tomato are draped and the bowl is put in a bigger pot, which is filled with some water (the water is not supposed to rinse into the bowl!), the lid is applied to the pot and the water has to be kept at 100 degrees Celsius (reflux) for about 20 minutes.

The meatballs are well done after that time and a tasty sauce is obtained from tomato juice, oyster sauce and water steam. The dish is served with sliced green salad, chili, soy sauce and rice. I modified the recipe, put 2 Thai chilis into the meat and slices of 3 spring onions on top of the prepared meatballs before I started to cook them. Enjoy!

The English bet – Or: How to become a Vietnamese chef

Everytime Trang or me speaks German to one another the punishment for that failure is cooking. And since I lead against her, I will learn to cook Vietnamese cuisine, everytime we have “payday”. I love Vietnamese food and so I really enjoy the idea of this little tournament to improve our English skills.

Trang and me have a deal. It’s kinda “You know, we live in a foreign country now so we better just speak the foreign language anymore” deal. Everytime one of the both of us speaks German to the other one, the one who failed to speak English has to cook. And by surprise it’s a 4:1 (3:0) for me at the moment – first payday was yesterday evening. Was sooo looking forward to that one… because Trang promised to just cook Vietnamese and teach me how to do it – this is how I might become a Vietnamese chef in the time over here and I really like this idea since the food is arguably the best Asian cuisine has to offer, hand in hand with Japanese maybe… 🙂

First of all we went shopping and since the girls luckily have a car, I could get some groceries for the upcoming time. Most likely bins with beans, corn, ground tomatoes and kind of this stuff which is basically too heavy to carry it around while shopping by bike. Have a look, the American way of groceries shopping!

The meal Trang suggested for the first payday is Xiu mai (Vietnamese meatballs). It’s not spelled right but my American keyboard lacks the proper keys to express the name with the right “pronounciation”. The meat (beef, free of fat) is mixed with microslices (!) of onion, carrot, and sugar, salt, pepper and the most important ingredient probably, oyster sauce. Chopping of the veggies truly sucks because they have to be sliced into cubic millimeter small pieces… All has to be a homogenous paste and little meatballs are formed out of this. They are put into a bowl and the bowl is placed in a pot. Tomato slices are put on top of the meatballs and the pot is filled with some water, then closed with a lit. Reflux conditions are applied for about 20 minutes… Man that reads like an instruction for synthesis – some habits won’t change anymore! :-p

As side dishes you serve green salad, either bread (which sucks in the US) or – in our case – rice. And you put some soy sauce and chilies on top to spice it up. It was AWESOME!

The recipe at a glance

What you need: 500 g of ground beef free of fat, 5 big spoons of oyster sauce, 3 medium sized onions, about 3  carrots, 2 medium sized tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar, sidedishes: green salad, rice or bread (you can eat it as sandwich as well)

How you do it: Onions and carrots are sliced in about cubic millimeter small pieces and mixed with the ground beef, salt (a big spoon), pepper (a teaspoon) and sugar (2 big spoons), as well as the oyster sauce (5 big spoons) are added and everything is properly mixed to obtain a homogenous mass. Out of that mass little balls are formed and they are all put into a bowl, on top of those balls the slices of tomato are draped and the bowl is put in a bigger pot, which is filled with some water (the water is not supposed to rinse into the bowl!), the lid is applied to the pot and the water has to be kept at 100 degrees Celsius (reflux) for about 20 minutes. The meatballs are well done after that time and a tasty sauce is obtained from tomato juice, oyster sauce and water steam. The dish is served with sliced green salad, chili, soy sauce and rice. Enjoy!