And finally Pho

So, this is the Pho recipe I’ve been meaning to write up for maybe 2 weeks now. I just kept getting side tracked by desserts and bread and the Purim feastly event. Which meant that in the meantime, I misplaced/deleted the photo that was going to accompany this one – I’d actually filled up the memory card for my camera. Appearances to the contrary, I take somewhere between 5 and 25 photos for every entry here – y’all only see the one I like best.

On to the pho!

This is another one where the quality of the meal is entirely dependent on the quality of the ingredients. Without good noodles and vegetable stock, this just isn’t going to be worth it. So make the trip to an Asian supermarket for the noodles and get (or make) the best stock your budget/time allows for. As written, this is a vegetarian meal, but, it’s pho. Treat this as a base and add whatever toppings and garnishes you want. It’s flexible and can do that.

And hey, when Adam eats a vegetarian meal, looks over, and says “keep this”, I say this is a recipe that works.

Pho for 2

serves 2
original from
Recipe Count – 26 left
Section Count – Main dishes: 2 more left, subsection – vegetarian: no more!

  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 3 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (here’s your sodium)
  • 4 carrots, peeled  and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2  lb dried rice noodles
  • firm tofu
  • green leafy vegetable such as bok choy, mustard greens, and/or broccoli
  • hoisin sauce and/or sriracha (optional)
  1. Place the onion and ginger directly under a broiler until slightly blackened, about 5 minutes on each side. In a large pot, dry roast the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and coriander over medium-low heat; stir to prevent burning. When the color starts to change (or they become aromatic), add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, carrots, and charred onion and ginger.
  2. Bring stock to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Strain and keep warm until ready to serve.
  3. Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Let stand until tender but still chewy, about 20-30 minutes. Drain.
  4. Divide noodles between two bowls, top with tofu and vegetables, and ladle about 2 cups of stock into each bowl. Serve with sauce and any other garnishes you desire on the side.

Stealing Adam’s Schtick – don’t worry, I’ll give it back

Soups, stews and casseroles are Adam’s thing. The way breads and stir-fries are mine. Hmmm, Adam’s seem a bit more coherent/related to each other there… Anyrate, one of us attempting the other’s thing is likely to produce cries of “but that’s my schtick!” around here. Maybe even a fake pout.

Look, if I’m making soup in a wok, I think I can legitimately claim indulgence and/or a stretching of the boundaries of things. 🙂

Originally, I thought this soup would be an appetizer. I mean, that’s when soup is served right? Including the hot & sour soups served in Chinese-American restaurants, right? So, I’d marinated a chicken breast overnight, slapped it on the mini George Forman grill, and tossed a small salad on the plate too.

Didn’t need it. Between the ground meat and tofu already in the recipe (… the ground meat may have been upped from what was originally called for. What can I say, ground chicken is sold in 1 lb packages, not 10.5 oz packages), the leftovers are working handily as a full meal.

Maybe I should invest in small soup bowls. Or not use our soup/cereal bowls for dinner.

Personally, I think this one is a bit light on the spiciness (hot) and the sour part, but Adam’s reaction was ‘you’re keeping this right?’. So, I’ll probably use more chili garlic sauce and/or less sugar next time. Just to see what happens.

Hot and Sour Tofu Soup

Recipe Count – 31 left
Section Count – Appetizers: 4 left
original from The Spice Bible

Serves 6

  • 2:1 ratio of vegetable oil:sesame oil – get enough for the size of your pan
  • 1 bunch scallions, white part chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ground white pepper
  • 1 lb ground chicken (or pork)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can sliced bamboo shoots
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • 1 lb firm tofu, cut into bite-sized dice
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Heat the vegetable & sesame oil in a wok over medium-high heat until shimmery/hot. Add the white part of the scallions, garlic, and pepper; stir-fry for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the ground meat and stir-fry, breaking up any lumps, until it browns (about 5 -8 minutes). Add the broth, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, for 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
  2. Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sugar. Add the sauce mixture and tofu to the wok. Combine 2 tbsp water and the cornstarch, mixing until smooth. Stir it into the soup and cook until the soup thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
  3. Drizzle the beaten eggs onto the top of the soup and leave for 1 minute without stirring, then stir through just before serving. Can garnish the soup with shredded scallion greens.

Hot & Sour Soup

In which a slow cooker does not successfully substitute for a fondue pot

Happy New Year everybody! Adam and I will be in Charleston, with his family for a late Christmas celebration, until the evening of January 6th. So, there will be some photo fillers instead of posts for our next two (on the 2nd and 7th). But in the meantime, my adventures with Mongolian Hot Pot.

I’ve mentioned before how Adam and my cooking styles compliment each other, in that he turns the leftover ingredients from my recipes into amazing things? Well, sometimes he has to step in and improvise like that in the middle of my recipes.

So, this little adventure came to us via the 75th anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking – the Mongolian Hot Pot recipe. Just to be clear, I own neither a hot pot, nor a fondue pot, nor an electric skillet as recommended by the recipe. My thinking when marking this one out to copy was something along the lines of “Oh, Mongolian, I don’t have anything from that cuisine yet!” I would just like to note, that the Joy of Cooking, as venerable and useful and generally amazing as it is, is probably not the best place to dip a toe into a non-American cuisine’s waters. It’s too broad and basic skills level a cookbook to really be the best place to find exemplars of a cuisine.

But I copied it out anyway. Back on 10th August this year. Which is pretty good for me – it only sat in my blue binder for four months. Part of that is that this one is really a dinner party recipe, to have a whole bunch of friends sitting around the pot, cooking their bites of meat/tofu/vegetables and talking. BUT, I have to test it out first, right? Shouldn’t spring un-tested recipes on friends as the main entree, right?

So, the recipe calls for getting your broth boiling on the stove and then keeping it hot on the table in a hot pot, fondue port, or electric skillet. You know, something you can keep putting heat into in a regulated way. So a slow cooker should be able to pinch hit, right? Well, apparently not if you only just get the broth to boiling (needed more thermal inertia) and keep the slow cooker on low. The meat … cooked … as we dunked it. Just, not enough that we were really comfortable that the risk of food poisoning was low enough. So, Adam grabbed the beef slices, a little of the sauce, some of the broth, a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer, and stir-fried them all together. He also dumped the rice noodles that are supposed to soak in hot water near the end of the meal, get drained, and then sop up the remnants of the sauce and broth into the slow cooker of broth. And there-in we learned that the generic branded rice noodles available at Wegmans are not so great and in the future, we will be making a pilgrimage to a local Asian food store. If they give us permission, we’ll see about getting some pictures too. The Wegmans available rice noodles were just really, really, really bland. Even for rice noodles.

By the way, the sauce from this is awesome. Totally usable in more recipes.

Mongolian Hot Pot (ish)

Recipe count: 36 left
Section count: Entrees, beef: 0 left (I’m free! I’m free!)
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking
Serves 6

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tbsp red miso
  • 1/4 cup toasted fiery sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • chopped chives
  • 1 lb beef top round, sliced very thinly
  • 1 bag of frozen vegetables, your choice
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage
  • 14 oz (i.e. 1 package) extra firm tofu
  • 8 oz spinach, trimmed, washed & dried
  • 32 oz carton of beef broth
  • 1 package dried rice noodles
  • 4 cups hot water
  1. In a blender, purèe the rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, miso, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Pour into individual serving bowls and garnish with the scallions and chives.
    Sauce Bowl
  2. Slice the cabbage and tofu into bit-sized pieces. Arrange the cabbage, tofu, and spinach on a platter. Stir fry the beef slices and frozen vegetables in a little bit of oil, sauce, and broth, until browned and vegetables cooked through.
  3. Soak the rice noodles in enough hot water to cover for about 10 minutes; drain. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil. Once broth is boiling and noodles have soaked, transfer the noodles to the broth, remove from heat, and bring the broth, individual sauce bowls, and the platter to the table.

Suggested eating implements: chopsticks.