7 articles Articles posted in vietnamese

pho ga (vietnamese chicken noodle soup)

When you’re feeling under the weather, nothing soothes you more than a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. When it’s cold and rainy outside, hot soup is especially satisfying!  I was actually a bit sick this past week, but because we don’t live close to any Vietnamese restaurants anymore and I didn’t feel like cooking, we just went to Souplantation (also called Sweet Tomatoes in some places). They have, hands down, the best “American” chicken noodle soup ever. The broth is clear and rich, and you just feel healthier eating it! It’s funny because every time we go, all the Asians get bowls of just soup, while all the Caucasians get bowlfuls of just chicken and noodles. Mom always taught me the nutrients are all in the soup!

The Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup, pho ga, is something that my family made quite often because of its humble ingredients that were always readily available. Pho ga is often overshadowed by it’s richer, more flavorful counterpart, pho bo (or just referred to as “pho“), beef noodle soup. On cold or rainy days though, nothing hits the spot more than a piping bowl of pho ga. Its flavors are a bit more subtle than pho bo, but I think that it has its own complexities and subtleties that don’t hit you over the head quite as much as eating a bowl of pho bo.

Pho ga is pretty simple to make, especially if you have the poached chicken technique down pat. I simply use the stock that was left over from making poached chicken and throw the bones back in after removing all the meat, along with some spices. Sometimes I add in another pound of chicken bones if I happen to have any (or you can always purchase chicken necks from Asian grocery stores too).

Pho Ga
serves 4-6
adapted from various sources

Try to purchase fresh banh pho noodles found in the refrigerated section of Asian supermarkets. If those are not available, the dried ones will do as well. We sometimes also use fresh noodle sheets, which can be found in sheets or pre-cut into 1/2″ strips (the same sheets and strips used for banh uotand beef chow fun). If not cut, simply use a knife to cut to the desired width.

1 whole chicken (about 4 lbs)
1-2 lbs chicken bones (not necessary, but adds richness to the broth)
1 whole onion, unpeeled and cut in half
chunk of ginger, about 3″, unpeeled
2 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar (or rock sugar)
3 Tbsp fish sauce
small bunch of cilantro stems, tied
salt, to taste

1 pack banh pho (flat thin rick stick noodles)

Herb plate:
bean sprouts
onions, thinly sliced
lime wedges
Vietnamese herbs such as Thai basil and culantro (sawtooth herb)

1. Toast the onion and ginger in the oven, with the temperature set to broil. Toast until the onion and ginger have a nice charred skin. This can take anywhere between 10-20 minutes. You can also toast them directly on your oven range, either with an electric or gas stove. Just be sure to watch them carefully, turn often, and have the exhaust fan on.

2. While the ginger and onion are toasting, you can also take the coriander seeds and lightly toast them in a pan until they are fragrant.

3. After the ginger and onion are cooled, rinse them under water and rub off all the skin. Use a peeler to peel off all the skin from the ginger. Cut the ginger into thick slices.

4. Before doing anything with the chicken or chicken bones, fill a pot with water to parboil the chicken.  This helps get rid of all the impurities and ensures a clear broth.  Heat water until it boils.  Place chicken and chicken bones (if you are using any) into the pot and boil for about 5 minutes. Discard the water and rinse the chicken and chicken parts. Then poach the chicken according to the directions here, but subtract 5 minutes from the timing. Also place in the extra chicken bones. Add the ginger, onion, cilantro stems, coriander seeds, star anise, and cloves to the water as well. This will help flavor the broth and chicken while it cooks. Make sure there is enough water to entirely cover the chicken.

5. After you have removed the chicken and have cooled it in an ice bath, detach all the meat from the bones. Using a large butcher knife, break all the large bones to expose the marrow. Throw all the bones back into the pot.

6. Gently simmer for another 1-2 hours. Be sure not to let it boil too hard, or else the soup will become cloudy.

7. After 1-2 hours, strain the broth to remove all the bone shards. Add in the sugar and fish sauce. Add salt to taste.

8. Prepare noodles according to direction on package. If using fresh noodles, they shouldn’t need to be cooked for more than 1-2 minutes. You will want to err on the side of the noodles being more firm, because they will continue to cook as they sit in the broth. Our family also likes to use flat noodle sheets, as these are sometimes available fresh (and still warm!). They are oftentimes wider and have a smoother texture to them.

9. Prepare the bowls by placing noodles and shredded chicken pieces into a bowl. Ladle in the hot broth. Top with onions and cilantro.

10. Serve with herb plate and Sriracha and Hoisin sauce, if desired. I try to stay away from these sauces, as they tend to overpower the delicate flavor of the broth.

vietnamese beef stew (bo kho)

Fall is well under way here on the Hill. That means lovely cool days, gorgeous colors, scarves, boots, hot apple cider… Indeed, after growing up in Canada, then spending high school and college in the desertlands of Arizona, one of the major things I celebrate about being in the Northeast is having distinct seasons. I love all of them! There is something about seasonal change that my body and soul cannot live without — the cyclical nature of time and growth, the end of one thing and the beginning of another.

Among the many things that fall marks is harvest time and the change in the foods available to us and what we eat. Hot stews make some of the greatest meals now, and this one is a favorite in our household. You might say fall came early over here, as both my husband and his dad love slow-cooked meats and stews, so when my father-in-law came for a visit in August, this was an obvious dish to put on the menu.

Bo kho is actually my husband’s favorite Vietnamese dish. It’s his regular order at any Vietnamese restaurant that serves something other than pho. And what he loves even more than slow-cooked meats is soft, gelatinous beef tendon. So when we make bo kho at home, we make sure to include plenty of that.

Bo kho is another one of those French-influenced Vietnamese dishes. It’s essentially a French ragout with Asian spices. In Vietnam, it’s actually eaten for breakfast and often with a baguette for sopping up the sauce. At Vietnamese restaurants in North America, you will often have the option of eating bo kho with baguette, rice noodles, or egg noodles, all of which make for a hearty, comforting meal. It’s served with Thai basil, a squeeze of lime, and a dipping sauce of salt, pepper, and lime.

Bo Kho
Makes 6 servings

This can be made in either a slow cooker or a Dutch oven. Beef tendon is very tough and requires cooking separately for several hours to become tender. We like our tendon super soft and gelatinous rather than chewy, so we simmer it for a good number of hours, until it can be easily sliced through, before adding it to the stew to simmer even longer and to soak up some flavor.

1.5 lbs beef tendon
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 lbs beef chuck or shank

1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 6-oz can tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
3 cloves
3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 4-inch pieces and bruised
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp 5-spice powder

2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
beef broth or water
3 medium carrots, cut into thick slices

baguette, rice noodles, or egg noodles
Thai basil
lime wedges
salt, pepper, and lime dipping sauce

1. Boil a pot of water with the beef tendon and 1 tsp of baking soda. Simmer for 3 hours or until tendon becomes tender enough for a knife to cut through it with some ease. You may want to simmer this in a slow cooker overnight, so that the tendon is ready to cook in the stew the next day. When tendon is tender, drain and rinse. Cut the tendon in half lengthwise and then into pieces about 2 inches long.

2. Wash and pat dry the beef chuck or shank. Cut into 1.5-inch cubes. Mix in the marinade ingredients. Let marinate for 30 minutes and up to overnight.

3. Heat the oil on medium-high, and then add the crushed cloves of garlic. When the garlic begins to brown, add the marinated beef chuck/shank, along with all the marinade ingredients, and let it brown. You may want to do this in several batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, so that the meat sears rather than steams. Put all the meat, plus the cooked tendon, back into the pot. Then add enough beef broth or water to cover everything by an inch or so.

4. Let the stew simmer on low for about 3 hours. (You can also transfer the stew to a slow cooker at this point and cook on low overnight.) Add carrots to cook during the last half hour.

5. Serve the stew in shallow dishes with baguette, or serve over rice or egg noodles. Include Thai basil, lime wedges for squeezing over, and salt, pepper, and lime dipping sauce for the meat.

steamed rice noodle sheets (banh uot)

Some people have childhood memories of their moms making pancakes on weekend mornings. My sister and I have memories of our mom making banh uot or Vietnamese steamed rice noodle sheets.

When I visited Vietnam last year, I got to watch the ladies at the markets making these fresh. It’s a painstaking process that involves pouring rice flour batter in crepe-like fashion over a steamer that resembles a drum. And then you use a chopstick to carefully lift the delicate sheet off.

Now, my mom never made rice noodle sheets from scratch. She bought them premade, rolled up in a bundle from the store. But my sister and I were delegated the task of separating the individual sheets from the bundle and tearing them into smaller pieces. It was perhaps almost as painstaking a process. But it also meant we were all in the kitchen making breakfast together.

A little while back, my husband and I took a short roadtrip to Philly and discovered a huge Vietnamese supermarket there, where I found fresh rice noodle sheets. I couldn’t resist getting some, bringing it back with us, and making our own Sunday morning breakfast of banh uot.

Steamed Rice Noodle Sheets (banh uot)
Serves 2-3

1 12- to 14-oz package of rice noodle sheets
scallion oil
1/4 steamed pork roll (cha lua, also known as Vietnamese ham)
bean sprouts
1/4 cucumber, julienned
Vietnamese herbs, such as mint, Vietnamese coriander, red perilla, etc., cut into a chiffonade
fried shallots
nuoc cham sauce

1. Separate the rice noodle sheets and tear into pieces about the size of your palm.

2. Divide the rice noodle sheets into individual-size servings and set on plates. Drizzle a bit of scallion oil over each plate. Heat each plate in the microwave for about a minute. (My mother always used the microwave, but you could also steam it in a bamboo steamer or a wok.)

2. Cut the steamed pork roll into thin slices. Lay over the rice noodle sheets.

3. Top the rice noodle sheets and sliced pork roll with a handful of beansprouts, julienned cucumber, chiffonaded Vietnamese herbs, and a sprinkling of fried shallots. Serve with nuoc cham dressing.