Pho bo

Time for another travel post methinks; it’s been a while.

Pho bo recipe

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.

Asian ingredients

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.

Images from Vietnam

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)

Pho bo

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Tonight I’ll mostly be eating purple food

I’m from outside a large town in the north east of Ireland, a town with a pretty distinctive accent.

Even when I meet Irish people here in Australia, and tell them where I’m from, their usual response is: ‘well ya don’t sound like you’re from Drogheda!’. I think it may have been voted the worst accent in Ireland at some stage. But I love it, especially some specific words, you see, people in Drogheda don’t say the word purple, the say ‘puawpul’.

Anything this colour has to be good for you, right?

Last week I was sick, all week. It was horrible, at one stage I was pretty sure I was going to die. I think it may have been the man-flu, it really wasn’t fun. I finally started to feel better on Sunday and decided I needed some warm, vitamin-filled, wholesome food. So I made a big batch of puawpul borscht, yummo!

Even just prepping the veg for this soup cheered me up, the colours were fantastic. Just for giggles I made sure everything that went into it was a shade of purple: the beetroot (obviously), the onions, the cabbage, the potatoes (well the skin at least), even the carrots! What can I say, when you haven’t left the house for four consecutive days, you start to find the colour of vegetables amusing. As the vegetables cooked, the colour changed into the most wonderful deep red, it just looked fantastic, but probably not food to eat on a first date or while wearing your Sunday best. And the colour is pervasive; eat enough of this soup and your wee may just turn a jaunty shade of pink!

Colourful urine aside, this soup is delicious. It’s hearty and filling; sweet, peppery and rich. It goes really well with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of sourdough. And it just has to be packed full of vitamins and good for you things, which is always excellent.

The two photos of Drogheda were taken my by very talented Papa, check out more of his work here and here.

Puawpul borscht

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Put the lime in the coconut

Back at home I’ll quite happily have soup for dinner from Monday through to Thursday, especially during the winter. It’s so quick and filling and warm and healthy (kind of) and all-round delicious. And it can generally be made from whatever you have in the fridge, making it super cheap. Could there be a better combination of things for a midweek supper? But here in the Land of Oz soup just doesn’t suit the climate. That was until I was flicking through the lovely Rachel Allen’s Favourite Food at Home book and came across a recipe for coconut, pak choi and basil broth. It sounded pretty yummy.

This Asian inspired soup is perfect for the Australian climate. It’s fresh, hot, sour and very light. I have adapted it slightly, throwing in some red pepper (or capsicum – look at me getting down with the lingo!) and vermicelli noodles just to make it a bit more substantial for a hungry supper. Otherwise The Fella would only complain loudly that I was trying to starve him.

Coconut, pak choi and basil broth

Chopsticks + noodle soup = big giant mess.

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