Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Vietnam in a bowl..
We all know or have heard about pho, I'm certain?..
They call it total comfort food, even soul food, they call it Vietnam's answer to fast food.
They also call it beef noodle soup,
but according to Vietnamese writer Vu Bang,
'To many persons, pho is no longer a dish - they are simply addicted to it, like tobacco addicts!
So.. how does this very simple yet very tasty complex dish starts its life?
Well,.. longggggggg before you eat it for sure! A long slow simmering of beef shinbones, oxtails, scraps of meat in a great big pot brings into a rich clear consomme.
This process alone takes about 24 hours if not right!
The cook then adds their spices, herbs and the family secrets. Chief among them will always be star anise, ginger and cinnamon.
You take your seat on a small blue plastic chair and wait...
"Madam" he asks.. what kind of meat do you want today?
I have lean meat thanks.
He immerses a sieve full of precooked rice noodles into hot water for a moment, lifts them out, drains them with a shake, and pours them into your bowl.
Skilfully with the eye of the florist, he arranges atop the noodles, a bouquet of white onion slices, tiny shavings of ginger perhaps, something green.
And then slices of red raw beef.
He lifts the lid of his stock pot and the heady steam billows out,
enveloping you in a thin and gossamer cloud of dew that separates itself into those curly wisps of mornings in a Vietnamese painting.
You know you are about to eat poetry!
Ladles of the simmering broth fill your bowl, its heat quickly penetrating the meat and cooking it to perfect tenderness in seconds.
The Maestro has done his part.
Now you take the baton.
From the garnish tray, add a squeeze of lime juice, add a few crisp bean spouts, a dash of chili sauce, lastly add a sprinkle of coriander leaves and/or mint and basil.
Voila Vietnam in a bowl!
The best way to eat this bowl of Yin and Yang is get stuck into it and enjoy!
Pull the noodles up with your sticks and slurp them into your mouth. Then slurp a bit of the broth from your spoon. Again use your sticks and layer a few noodles onto your spoon, with a mint leaf a a bit of the beef - aah.. perfection!
This full and well balanced meal in a bowl will cost you (depends where you eat it) under $1.
Can be eaten day or night..
In the south its popular for breakfast, especially among the farmers.
Its cheap and filling - has plenty of carbo's to fuel the body, enough protein to keep the body together, and plenty of liquid one needs in the tropical heat.
Viva Vietnam - you're amazing!