A couple of days ago, I had a very massive and very sudden craving for beef noodle soup. Of course, that called to mind pho, Vietnamese style noodle soup. Lucky for me, I had most ingredients in the larder for a beef noodle soup. Not saying that this recipe is pho itself, or any sort of beef noodle soup you might have grown up on, but this hits the spot anyway. I know W’s stomach was thrilled. It made a happy noise.
Here’s what you need:
- 200g beef brisket, cubed
- 1 litre beef stock
- 500ml water
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 thick slice of ginger
- 1 whole star anise
- Half stick of cinnamon
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
- Ground white pepper powder
- 2 portions of rice vermicelli/ noodles
- 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage
- Several slices of cucumber, halved
- Pack the cinnamon, star anise and ginger into a little stock bag if you have one. This will be really useful later when you have to remove the spices. If not, just have them ready anyway.
- Sear the beef brisket cubes a very hot pot till you have some nice colour on them.
- Then, toss in the garlic and onion slices, cooking till fragrant.
- Next, add in the bag of spices, beef stock, water, fish sauce, and sugar.
- Bring the soup to the boil and before turning it down to a simmer. Then, let it simmer away for at least 1.5 hours, until it has reduced by half its initial volume. Brisket will be very tough if not cooked long enough.
- Skim away the impurities that collect at the top from time to time.
- Cook the rice vermicelli only moments before the soup is ready and reduced. Submerge the noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes or so, or until they’re cooked through yet still bouncy. Then, strain, rinse and set in a bowl onto of the shredded cabbage. If you’re having another type of noodle, cook them accordingly as you do usually.
- Ladle out the soup and morsels of beef onto the noodles and serve with cucumber slices. For those who like it spicy, a good dash of chilli powder will satisfy the palette.
Have this on a cold rainy evening. Or have it on a sweltering hot afternoon: chopsticks in one hand, tissue paper in the other. Beef noodles are for everyone, in any kind of weather. We had this with a box of tissue on the side.
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