Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Banh Pho with Fish Balls and Pak Chee Farang

     Rice Flour Flat Ribbon Noodles!
     Food like today's pho soup can help to bring balance back into a stress filled lifestyle.  I have published several Asian style broth soup recipes in the past.  From a nutritional standpoint, the importance of broth cannot be understated.  This is why most Asian restaurants served a broth soup or pho in a huge soup bowl!
     The word "Pho" refers to Vietnamese rice noodles, but pho can also refer to the way that the rice noodles are served.  Pho is most often pictured as rice noodles in a big bowl of broth.  A wide variety of items can be added to the broth.  Certain combinations of added ingredients are required for well known pho soups that have traditional names.
     Nearly every culture in Southeast Asia offers a pho soup of one kind or another.  Pho is often spelled as "Fo" in Thai translations.  Both Thai and Vietnamese recipes require many herbs that are not commonly found in an average grocery store.  Pak Chee Farang is also known as saw tooth herb and has a strong "cilantro like" fresh flavor.  Pak Chee Farang most often is used to flavor beef.  Fresh Pak Chee Farang can be found in most Asian food markets.  
     Fish balls are fairly easy to make from dried fish meal powder.  Frozen pre-made surimi fish balls are a nice convenience and these fish meatballs can be found in Asia food markets.
     Banh Pho is also called "square noodles" or "flat ribbon noodles."  This noodle has a fettuccine shape.  Dried Banh Pho can be soaked in cold water, then steamed.  Dried Banh Pho can also be boiled.  Either way, Dried Banh Pho should be cooked to order, so the noodles do not become too soft.  Fresh Banh Pho are sometimes available in Asian food markets too.  Making fresh Banh Pho from scratch is always an option.

     Banh Pho with Fish Balls and Pak Chee Farang:
     This recipe yield 1 large portion.  (About 3 1/4 cups)
     When using frozen pre-made surimi fish balls, thaw them ahead of time.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of banh pho noodles in boiling water till they become tender.
     Cool the noodles under cold running water.
     Drain off the water.
     Set the noodles aside. 
     Step 2:  Heat 3 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of dried shaved pickled bonito flakes. (Katsuobushi)
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 lemon grass shoot that is tied in a knot.
     Boil the broth for about 10 minutes, so the lemongrass flavor infuses.  
     Remove the lemon grass knot.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of Vietnamese Fish Sauce.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Coarse Ground Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste (sambal).
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground galangal.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Madras Yellow Curry Powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Add 7 surimi fish balls.
     Add 6 thin sliced carrot sticks.
     Add 1/5 cup of julienne sliced onion.
     Add 2 small baby bok choy that are cut in half lengthwise.     
     Add 5 thin sliced red bell pepper strips.
     Add 2 sliced small shiitake mushrooms or portobello mushrooms.
     Add 6 feather cut snow peas.
     Add 1 green onion that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Step 5:  Boil till the vegetables just start to become tender
     Step 6:  Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 2 to 3 pak chee farang leaves that are cut into 1" long pieces.
     Stir the soup.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Step 7:  Pour the hot soup into a large bowl.
     Place the reserved Banh Pho noodles in the center of the soup.  (The hot broth will reheat the noodles.)
     Garnish the soup with a few whole fresh Pak Chee Farang leaves.
     Float a thin slice of lime on the soup broth.

     The bonito flakes create a rich fish broth and the lemon grass adds a lightness.  Pak chee farang wilts in the hot broth and it imparts a strong cilantro flavor!  

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