My boyfriend and I had high hopes for the opening ceremony last week and we were not disappointed. Neither of us are huge fans of the Olympic Games, but we fell victim to the hype, and to be even more cliche`, we decided to have a Chinese spread for dinner.
We had high hopes. We were going to make dumplings from scratch, spare ribs, spring rolls, and a type of soup, to be finished off with homemade ginger ice cream and fried bananas.
None of that happened. It was 6:30 on a Friday and the opening ceremony was to begin in an hour.
Off to Trader Joe's! What a great supermarket. When I lived in NY, I would actually take a cab from my apartment on 68th and Madison down to Union Square just to shop there. To save money. Obviously, my reasoning skills were desperately in need of some tweaking, because I never took into account the cost of the cab ride. But that is neither here nor there. We were able to get delicious dumplings (that aren't that bad for you!), spring rolls (that aren't that bad for you!) and ribs (which are really bad for you!). But I still made the soup- I was really looking forward to that one. And wow, was it amazing.
Chinese Style Pho Bo Beef Noodle Soup
For Beef Broth:
1 small onion, diced
1 2 inch stick of ginger
2 pounds beef bones
12 cups water
6-8 star anise (or fennel or coriander seeds)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound lean beef
1 16-ounce package dry, flat Pho rice noodles
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
10 cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
10 sprigs opal basil (you can use fresh if you can't find opal basil)
10 sprigs fresh culantro (ngo gai)
fresh red or green chile pepper, thinly sliced
lime or lemon quarters
hot chile sauce
Broil onion and ginger until very crisp and brown. 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 25-30 minutes.
Slice raw beef into thin strips and sear for 2 minutes until cooked. 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 of water to a boil. Add drained noodles and cook eight 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. Add noodles, garnishes, and beef. Enjoy.
*Culantro is a leafy herb with a similar aroma to cilantro, although more pungent. If it is not available, increase the amount of cilantro or simply leave it out.
Note: For a quick way to make the broth, replace water and beef bones with beef broth