Rich and I were lucky enough to travel to Hanoi last year. I’ll be honest – it was a total junket, with all the good stuff laid on, but it gave us a great opportunity to briefly visit a country we’d never seen before.
I’ll write more about this trip, the highlights, the food, etc, and post a few snaps so you can get a feel for why Hanoi is a place worth seeing. Aside from anything else, the food is beyond sensational. Although hotel food can be sub-par at the best of times, we were staying at the Intercontinental Westlake (amazing!). Breakfast every morning was wide ranging, but we always managed to plough through a bowl of beef or chicken pho.
I’ve been craving this fragrant, fresh soup a great deal recently (likely because it’s cold and I’m missing summer). I turned to Luke Nguyen’s comprehensive Vietnamese cookbook, Vietnam, and the recipe gave me the basics, but was too much for a Wednesday night!
So I messed with it a bit to make the recipe something a bit more achievable when time is short and you can’t be travelling all over town for ingredients.
VIETNAMESE BEEF NOODLE SOUP
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions roughly chopped
large thumb ginger roughly sliced
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1tsp whole peppercorns
2 litres good quality beef stock
1/3 cup fish sauce
2 tbsp raw sugar
4 pieces of sirloin steak (approx 150g pre-trimmed), fat trimmed
250g packet rice noodles
Mint (Vietnamese if you can get it)
Spring onions, sliced
Red onions, thinly sliced
Red chilis, thinly sliced
- Heat oil in a large pot over a moderate heat.
- Add onions and ginger, and cook until beginning to turn brown
- Add spices and cook until fragrant
- Pour in stock, fish sauce, water and raw sugar and bring to the boil
- Reduce heat to simmer and cook until reduced by approximately a third
- Meanwhile, cook noodles in boiling water as per instructions. Drain, rinse and set aside
- Heat a barbecue or griddle pan until very hot, and sear steaks very briefly (no more than a minute each side) until steaks are charred but still very rare in the middle
- While steaks are resting, arrange noodles in four large, deep bowls. Strain soup, discard onions and spices and pour over noodles
- Slice steaks thinly and arrange on top
- Serve with garnishes and allow everyone to garnish their soup to taste
- Vietnamese mint is really hard to find in Auckland (I’ve had no success so far). It’s not quite as authentic as I’d like, but I use common mint instead
- Luke Nguyen recommends using cassia bark. Cinnamon sticks are a suitable replacement (which I’ve used above), but if you can find cassia, use that instead in the same quantities
- If you want to substitute beef for chicken, change the stock to chicken stock, and change out the beef for chicken breast or thighs, depending on your preference. I would recommend poaching the chicken until cooked, which you can do in the soup base for approximately 15 minutes or until no longer pink in the centre.