Time for another travel post methinks; it’s been a while.
I’ve previously written about how the Fella and I packed up our lives in Dublin and took the slow boat other side of the planet. We stopped off in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore before making the final trek to this great red land Down Under. Truth be told, I only picked those countries because of the delicious and unusual treats that were waiting to be discovered. As I’ve said before: feck culture, I’m hungry!
Vietnam was …… oh god, how do you describe Vietnam in a few succinct words and do it justice? The simple fact is you can’t, well, I can’t. Not without gushing endlessly.
We started our Vietnamese adventures in Hanoi, the home of the famous pho soup. On nearly every street there is a stall selling this hot and savoury beef soup, you can smell the star anise at almost every turn. So many stalls and restaurants all claim to sell the best version in Hanoi, the competition is fierce. It is light, spicy, full of green freshness and yummie; oh so very yummie.
I would urge any of you who can to visit Vietnam; the people, scenery and food all combine to make such a wonderful and interesting holiday. Just some of our highlights included sleeping at a gibbon sanctuary, celebrating the full moon festival in Hoi An and exploring the coffee plantations and waterfalls of the Dalat highlands by moped.
Pho bo (beef pho)
I adapted this recipe from one I got when I did a class at Saigon Cooking School. I love doing cooking classes while on holidays, but I often find that when you get home the recipes can be difficult to replicate, ingredients can be hard to come by and techniques can be lengthy. I shortened the cooking time and stuck to ingredients that I could find (and pronounce) and it still worked out great! Just as I remember it.
6 cm piece of fresh ginger
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stock
2-3 cardamom pods
2 L beef stock, or clear beef soup (consommé)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
750 g rice noodles
250g beef fillet, very thinly sliced
red chillies, sliced (use as many as you like, careful if you don’t like it too hot!)
1 spring onion, sliced
75 g beansprouts
A handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 lime cut into wedges
In a dry pan, toast the ginger, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom together, until they are heated through and the smells are beginning to fill your kitchen. Transfer the spices into a muslin parcel (or even a tea strainer).
In a large pot, add the spices to the beef soup and bring to the boil; reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes while all the flavours infuse. Then add the fish sauce, pepper and sugar to taste. Add the slices of beef and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes if you like your beef on the rare side; longer if you’d prefer your meat slightly well done.
Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to the instructions on the pack.
Divide the noodles between 4 bowls and pour the soup and beef slices over. Add the red chilli slices, spring onion, beansprouts and fresh mint leaves, all to your taste of course, finish with a squeeze of lime juice.
It brings back so many memories, Vietnam, I can’t wait to come back!
Some of the holiday snaps above were actually taken by my very tallented Fella, you should check out more of his creative work here!
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