Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

This past few weeks has been nuts! Were to find the time to sit down and allow myself to drift off into the world of memories, thoughts, and food? This past weekend I spent quality time in a kitchen with my 3 favorite things, Dessert, Coffee, and 1 on 1 Conversation with a good friend. He slung cup after cup of Coffee all the while I plated dessert after dessert severing 80 some people. The weekend prior to that, I made mad passionate love to several large bottles of Nyquil in order to defeat a nasty cold. So, I really haven’t felt up to writing until today.

Over the past several weeks I made myself a goal to read something other than food related articles, books, and blogs. So I made a few selections to read every day, such as a local forum called Lander Talks, The New York Times, and The LA Times. My favorite section of course is food and travel, but I made myself skip them with much complaining from my will power. I don’t really have much to say or report from reading world news, other than the world over all, is business as usual.

Locally speaking, there seems to always be some hot topics that stirs up the opinions of our local community. They never cease to impress and shock me, all at the same time. There was one topic that ignited a debate both pro and con about Equality in the State of Wyoming and the rights of the “Gay community” within this great state. Though I wasn’t willing to partake in this debate, I read both sides and was impressed with some of the responses, but also wasn’t so impressing was the wiliness for some to be vile and obtuse in there responses. Towards the end of the discussion I decided to offer up my opinion/thought (I got sucked in) and I posted the following:

“I often try and avoid getting sucked into no winner debates. Like this past weeks back and forth about being gay or not in the state of Wyoming. After 13 years of marriage to my loving wife who has humbled me over the years in both my opinions and my actions, I offer this word of advice: Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God."

After I posted that, I didn’t think much of it. To my shock, I opened my email the following day to find 38 new letters. My first reaction before opening any of them was “Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?” Only, to be very humbled that many thought the opinion to be refreshing and of good advice. A few of the emails went on explaining to me there viewpoints and what lead them to feel the way they felt. It was all very touching.

So here I sit on a Sunday morning, thinking to myself what I have learned from this past few weeks of NON food related reading? Well, simply this, I should stick to what I know and love and leave the politics and the moral judgments to a higher power. That reading things that truly don’t interest me, should be left to those that it does interest. And lastly, the real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

So, with all that said, I want to leave you with a recipe. The simple reason I leave you with this one, is because when I was giving the advice, “Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.” We were having a large bowl of it.

Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)


Beef Broth:
1 small onion, chopped
1 2-inch stick of ginger
2 pounds beef bones
12 cups water
6 star anise
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound lean, tender beef

1 16-ounce package dry, flat rice noodles (pho)

3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
10 cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
10 sprigs basil
10 sprigs fresh cilantro
fresh red or green Chile pepper, thinly sliced

Lime or lemon quarters
Fish sauce
Hoisin sauce
Hot Chile sauce

Broil onion and ginger until they look burned. Using back of knife, smash the ginger and set aside.

Wash beef bones, place in a large soup pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and immediately pour off this "first boiling" water and discard.

Add another 12 cups of fresh water and again bring to a boil. Skim off foam. Add the broiled onion and ginger, star anise, salt and sugar. Over medium-low heat, simmer for 30 minutes.

Slice raw beef into thin strips and set aside.

Remove bones from broth and strain out vegetables and seasonings.

Soak noodles in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain.

In a soup pot bring two quarts fresh water to a boil. Add drained noodles and cook seven minutes at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally until noodles are tender. Rinse noodles under cold running water and set aside.

Return the broth to a boil over high heat.

To serve:
Divide noodles among 4 to 6 large individual serving bowls. Arrange thinly sliced raw beef, scallions, onion, and cilantro on top. Pour boiling hot broth to cover noodles and serve immediately. The boiling broth will cook the thin slices of beef. Pho is always accompanied by bean sprouts, basil leaves, cilantro and Chile pepper. Serve with lime and lemon quarters, fish sauce, hoisin sauce and hot Chile sauce.

In closing, I want to thank those of you who sent me emails of kind words, and also say “I understand” to those of you who explained your view. I respect your opinions and I look forward to reading them in the future. GO 1st Amendment GO!


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