Best Pho Tai Ever!

Ingredients:

Broth –

  • 5 lbs. of beef/pork neck bones (this is a beef soup but I used pork bones to help sweeten the broth)
  • 2-3 lbs. of beef marrow bones
  • 2 pieces of fresh ginger (about 2-4 inches long), halved and smashed
  • 2 large onions, halved
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (to help broil the ginger and onions)
  • 2 carrots, quartered (optional, this helps make the broth sweet)
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar (Optional: additional 2 tablespoons of white/cane sugar based on your taste)
  • ¾ cup of Vietnamese fish sauce (this is a lot but there is a lot of broth to flavor)
  • 1 tbs. of salt
  • 1 packet of Pho spice pouch
  • 2 Pho soup cubes
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • Fill a 12 quart stockpot ¾ of the way full of water
  • 8 quart stockpot to soak the bones

Accoutrements – (all optional toppings for your bowl)

  • 2 ½ lbs. of beef round eye, thinly sliced/paper thin
  • The meat from the beef/pork neck bones
  • 1-2 bags of dried pho rice noodles (flat, round, large, thin, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 1 large yellow/white onion, halved and then thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch of bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch of Thai basil
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (and seeded for less heat)
  • 2 red chili peppers, chopped
  • 2 limes cut into wedges
  • Bunch of baby bok choy, stalks torn off or cut off from the stem (this is not typical for Vietnamese pho but I like to add it to have a vegetable in the soup)
  • Ground black and white pepper
  • Sriracha/Fine Chili Sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Fish sauce (if you would like to add more to your bowl)

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot (I use a 12 quart All Clad stockpot), fill it ¾ of the way with water and turn heat on high and cover. It’s going to take awhile for it to come to a boil.
  2. In a separate smaller stockpot (I use an 8 quart All Clad stockpot), place the pork and beef bones and cover with water, add about a tablespoon of salt and let it soak. This will help clean your bones when you boil them later. It’s an added step but a definite time saver in the end when you don’t have to ladle out the top of your soup to keep it clean and clear. Drain and rinse thoroughly to make sure the bones are clean after 30-60 minutes.
  3. While the bones are soaking in the salt water, prepare the onions and ginger for charring. Cut and onions in half. Cut the ginger pieces in half and smash them so that they are not one solid piece. I don’t have a meat tenderizer so I used the back of my stainless steel ladle and smashed the ginger on the skin side. If you don’t have a gas stove to char you can broil the onions and ginger in the oven. Use tin foil and cover a baking pan. Add the onions and ginger and coat generously with cooking oil. This will help them brown in the oven. Broil for 5-7 minutes on each side or until they are slightly browned. When finished peel the skins off and can place them into the large stockpot that should be heating with water.
  4. After rinsing out the bones, in the same pot, add water back into the pot and boil for 5-10 minutes until the bones look cooked on the outside and the water is not clear. Drain the water again and rinse the bones again. This is to help keep your broth clean and clear. Trust me, it’s so worth it and you’re not losing any flavor either!
  5. When done cleaning the bones, place them into the large stockpot of boiling water along with the charred onions and ginger.
  6. When the large pot has come to a boil add your tea strainer with all the spices and pho cubes. I have a large tea strainer and I add my pho packet inside along with the other dried spices. Let them soak in the boiling pot for an hour. Remove from pot when done and discard contents. Make sure the water is at a low simmer.
  7. Add 1 tbs. of salt and ¾ cup of fish sauce and let the broth simmer for an hour at a low heat, partially covered with a lid. Don’t let the broth boil vigorously. You can remove the onions and ginger if they start to break up in your broth. If your broth is not clean skim the top with a spoon and discard it to keep your broth clear. If you’ve soaked and cleaned your bones then you shouldn’t really have to do this much.
  8. After simmering at low boil for a couple of hours, you can also remove the bones. They should be fork tender and fall apart. You can break this up with a fork and also add it to the individual bowls later.
  9. While the broth is simmering you can prepare all of your vegetables and fixings to add in the bowls.
  10. Skim the broth at the top for any impurities and fat and adjust your seasoning to taste by adding salt, fish sauce or sugar. The broth can simmer for 2-4 hours for best tasting results.
  11. Soak the pho noodles in hot water as per directed by the package instructions.
  12. 5 minutes before serving add in the bok choy into the large pot if so desired but this is not part of authentic Vietnamese pho. I just like to add it in for extra vegetables and it doesn’t take way from the rest of the pho taste and experience.
  13. Using a spider ladle (looks like a strainer) dip the strainer into the broth with the noodles to reheat them. Put it into a bowl.
  14. Add about 5-6 slices of the rare beef and any of the meat from the bones into the individual bowls along with the green and white onions to the hot noodles.
  15. Make sure the broth from the pot is boiling and very hot before pouring it into the bowl. Using a large soup ladle, pour the broth into the bowl. The hot broth should cook the rare beef in the bowls. You can also add in the bok choy at this time, if you added it to the pot.
  16. Add in any other accoutraments and sauces that you like, lime juice, ground black pepper and ground white pepper to taste.

Tips:

I get my local grocery store to machine cut the beef round eye into paper thin slices for me. This saves a lot of time. If your grocery store can’t do that for you then you can partially freeze the meat for about 15 to 20 minutes until it is firm. Then take it out and slice it paper thin.

Roasted Asparagus with Parmigiana-Reggiano Cheese

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What’s better than Parmigiano-Reggiano?

A.  Asparagus

B.  Nothing. Nothing is better than Parmigiano-Reggiano

C. Roasted Asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano

I would say my answer is B and C but really, nothing is better than Parmigiano-Reggiano. You can put it on anything or melt it on top of anything and I would eat it!

Here’s a simple recipe to roast it in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of large green asparagus spears, ends cut off (about 2″)
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cut the ends of the asparagus spears where it is woody and brown, about 2 inches off.
  • Cover a baking sheet with tin foil.
  • Spread the asparagus on the baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil, sea salt and pepper on top and thoroughly mix it all together.
  • Grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top and bake for 20 min.

It’s also great not to have to wash the pan because you can just throw away the tin foil when you’re done. We usually pair this with some kind of meat and starch.