In March 2019, we visited Hanoi in Vietnam for a few days as a last stop on a mini-Asian tour. This is a truly crazy city chock full of moped drivers who aren’t even deterred by flooded streets. Whilst I didn’t enjoy the trip to Ha Long bay as much as I was hoping – tourists were packed in to the point there was barely a space to park the boats, I did enjoy haggling a little with the market stall owners who charge about 3 times what they usually would if you’re a Westerner. I think they quite enjoy the haggling as long as you don’t take the mick!
Whilst in Asia, we did cheat a little on our pescatarian diet to be able to try the local delicacies though I do believe that it would be impossible to avoid meat even if we were making an active effort to. In Vietnam, my favourite was the Chả Giò which are Vietnamese spring rolls. They are deep fried and the rice paper they are wrapped in crisps up beautifully.
However, this recipe is for Pho – a chicken or beef flavoured broth served with rice noodles. As the traditional recipe calls for beef/chicken bone stock I’ve taken a couple of liberties adding garlic and ginger which is not traditionally Vietnamese. I was extremely happy with the outcome of my dabbling (sorry traditionalists!)
- 2 cloves garlic
- thumb ginger
- 2 shallots
- 100g rice noodles – the ones that are strips like tagliatelle rather than the vermicelli style
- 800ml ‘beef’ stock made with Massel beef flavoured stock powder
- 3 spring onions
- 15g mint leaves
- 10g coriander leaves
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 pak choi
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 lime
- 160g beef style soya chunks (I used a Tesco own-brand).
1.) Peel the garlic, shallots and ginger. Chop them finely.
2.) Fry on a low heat for a couple of minutes. Add the coriander seeds, anise, cloves and cinnamon stick and fry for a couple more minutes.
3.) Add the ‘beef’ stock and put on to simmer for 20 minutes.
4.) Wash and chop up the spring onions. Add half of them to the stock.
5.) Wash and chop up the pak choi – add the stalks to the pan but reserve the leaves.
6.) In another pan, fry the soya chunks until cooked.
7.) In another pan boil the rice noodles until soft and drain. Add these to the bowls to eat. Divide the soya chunks between the bowls.
8.) In the meantime, chop up the coriander and mint leaves. Quarter the lime. Put a lime quarter in each bowl.
9.) 2 minutes before the broth is ready, fish out the star anise and the cinnamon stick. Ideally, you want to fish out the cloves too but personally I couldn’t find them so I didn’t bother.
10.) Add the pak choi leaves and simmer for 1 more minute.
11.) Stir in the soy sauce and the fish sauce.
11.) Now pour the broth into the bowls and sprinkle on the herbs and the rest of the spring onion.