One of my absolute favourite meals is Vietnamese Pho. I just love the freshness and aromatic tones of this flavoursome broth. It’s such a cleansing dish packed with spicy ginger, fragrant lemon grass and a welcome kick of fresh chilli. If you’re feeling a little under the weather this is the best dish to warm your cockles, plus it acts as a great decongestant.
I usually go to my favourite Vietnamese restaurant at the end of my road for these culinary Asian delights. Any of you Hackney dwellers will know and frequent the fabulous Tre Viet, and for those further afield who don’t, I would highly recommend. With a mind-boggling array of authentic, mouthwatering Vietnamese dishes, plus the option of BYO, it’s always a preferred option in my book. The prospect of attempting to make any dish myself for the first time is always a little unnerving, especially when you know you can grab the perfect plate less than two minutes down the road and for less than £10; the second option usually prevails.
I decided to bite the bullet the other night and recreate a Pho noodle broth myself. A scary thought, but if it turned out to be complete a disaster I could always skip down the road to the takeaway and pretend to my housemate that I really had made it from scratch.
What I have been missing out on! It turned out to be a huge success. Apart from perhaps cooking the noodles a little too long, everything else was a winner. Vegetables were suitably crispy, the broth was packed with flavour and the chilli kick we were after definitely hit the mark. Plus it was a great warm up for the Comic Relief chilli-eating competition my housemate had entered herself into, and won I hasten to add!
I used prawns for this broth but you can use anything you like; thinly sliced pork, beef, fish or even just veg. The flavours of the broth are so wonderful, the meat or fish is just a welcome addition to the dish.
Vietnamese Pho with prawns
3 red or birdseye chillis
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 stick of lemongrass, cracked with the side of a knife
2cm piece of ginger, squashed slightly
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced diagonally
600 mls of good quality chicken stock
3 tbsp of Asian fish sauce
Handful of parsley leaves
Handful of basil leaves
150g cooked king prawns
150g rice noodles
100g bean sprouts
100g choy sum (fresh Asian cabbage leaves)
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 boiled egg
1) Place the lemongrass, ginger garlic and 3/4 of the chopped chilli into a pan with the chicken stock. Bring to the boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for another 15 minutes for the flavours to really infuse.
2) Add the prawns and the choy sum (fresh Asian cabbage leaves) to the soup, and add three of the spring onions, the fish sauce and the fresh herbs. Leave aside a small handful of each herb for garnishing. Put the lid back on the pan, and leave it whilst you carry out step 3.
3) In a pan of boiling water, cook the beansprouts for 1-2 minutes, or until they are just tender. Drain them and add them to the soup. Place the egg into the boiling water, you need to boil for about 5-6 minutes. To save water add the rice noodles to the egg, and leave to cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lemongrass and ginger and from the soup.
4) Remove boiled egg and place into a bowl of cold water. Then peel the shell neatly.
5) Divide the cooked noodles between two deep bowls. Pour a generous serving of your broth and vegetables over the cooked noodles. Cut the boiled egg in half and place on top of the soup.
6) Garnish with a little of the basil and parsley leaves, a few slices of red chilli and spring onion. Serve with a wedge of lime.