I’m sick. It isn’t very much fun being sick, that I can assure you. I feel like my throat is made of sandpaper and my feet are weighed down by potato sacks with every step I take. My back is aching terribly and everything looks as though they have fuzz all over. This can’t be good.
I haven’t been sick in a long long time. In fact, I rarely get sick. Granted, sometimes I catch a light cold that goes away in a few days. But this is one of the big ones. I just don’t feel normal at all. And please forgive me if this post contains more typos than normal. My brain is probably frying up at this point. I’ve seen the doctor and am taking meds. It’s just going to take a while to regain some strength. *cough cough cough*
It’s at times like this that I crave for comfort food. The appetite isn’t all there but a good nourishing broth can restore my spirits in the best way possible. A broth that is chock full of nutrients, spices and warmth. Something like this Beef Pho.
Pho is a Vietnamese signature spiced brothy noodle soup that captivated me several years ago when I first encountered it at a shopping mall. It was good but the price! Exorbitant! They charged us over RM30 for a small bowl of pho. And I remember telling myself that there was no way I’d pay so much for that ever again. I’d just make it myself. Fast forward a few years, I can now say I’ve done it.
Bear in mind, though, that this is not authentic pho. My recipe uses cheats that cuts down the boiling time. Traditional pho requires hours and hours of beef bone boiling to produce a deep, almost musky soup that would be fragranced with plenty of dried and fresh spices and herbs. My pho takes about 1 hour. It won’t be a perfect as true pho but this is just perfect for a sick bear who hasn’t got too much energy or time to wait for a pot of broth to bubble away all day.
I want my pho and I want it now. Embrace my faux pho, ladies and gentlemen.
Beef Stock Cube, Star Anise, Cloves, Coriander Seeds, Red Onion, Brown Sugar, Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce Ginger, Lemon Grass, Fresh Mint, Fresh Coriander, Red Chilli Oyster Mushrooms, Bok Choy, Salted 5-Spice Tofu, Beef Steak Strips, Kuay Teow (Flat Rice Noodles).
The spices are removed to give way to beef searing. Because this is a quick pho, we aren’t going to be boiling beef chuck until meltingly tender. A quick searing of tender beef strips will create the same soft mouthful at a fraction of the time.
After about 1/2 hour of boiling, I strained the spices and herbs out leaving a deep dark broth. All that’s left to do is to add in the remaining fresh ingredients like the mushrooms, tofu, bok choy and the noodles. Actually I boiled my noodles in a separate pot as they are a little oily. Fresh rice noodles only need a little warming through.
By using the beef stock cube and tender beef steak strip, the cooking time us cut down drastically without any sacrifice in flavours. I have no doubt that traditional methods of making this with much care and effort would produce a much better end product. But for busy people these days (and sick ones like me), something equally delicious in less that a 1/4 of the time is always a welcomed. The ingredients list may appear long but don’t let that deter you. It’s actually pretty easy.
If being sick means getting to savour a bowl of this, I guess it ain’t so bad? *shrug* *cough cough* *sniff* *cough*
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
1 lbs (450gms) Sirloin Steak, cut to strips
1 tsp grated Ginger
1 tsp grated Lemon Grass (white parts)
1/2 tsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
2 Star Anise
6 cups Water
1 Red Onion, Finely Chopped
1 piece thumb-sized Ginger, crushed
7-8 Coriander Stems
2 stalks Lemon Grass
1 Beef Stock Cube
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Fish Sauce
1 tbsp Soy Sauce (to taste)
Garnish & Extras
1.5 lbs (650gms) Fresh Kuey Teow (Flat Rice Noodles)
12 oz (320gms) block Extra Firm 5 Spice Tofu
3 bunches Bok Choy
1 cup Oyster Mushroom
1 cup mixed chopped Mint & Coriander Leaves
2 stalks Spring Onion, Chopped
1 Red Chilli, Sliced Thinly
- Begin by marinating beef strips with grated ginger, grated lemongrass, fish sauce, brown sugar and dark soy. Leave it to sit while you chop up the other ingredients.
- Heat up a deep stock pot and add vegetable oil. Toast up star anise, coriander seeds & cloves for 1 minute until fragrant. Remove spices and set aside.
- Bring the heat up to MED HIGH. Sear beef strips in 3 batches, 1 minute per batch. Strips should be golden brown but not over cooked. Slight pink is expected. Set aside.
- Toss in coriander stalks, lemongrass stalk, toasted spices, red onion, water, ginger, stock cube, brown sugar, fish sauce & soy sauce. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned beef juices left after searing the meat (fond).
- Fish out the spices and herbs once broth is ready. Add in tofu, bok choy & oyster mushroom and simmer till bok choy has wilted slightly but still vibrantly green, about 1 minute. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
- Meanwhile, give the rice noodles a rinse with hot water to get rid of excess oil and also to warm it through.
- Divide noodles into 4 separate bowls (if you’re us, only 2 bowls, leaving excess for another meal). Pour in sufficient broth. Arrange bok choy, tofu & mushrooms on top. Scatter over seared beef, chopped mint, coriander leaves, spring onions & sliced chillies.
- Enjoy on a cold cold day or when you are feeling less than well.