I used to eat phở at a Vietnamese noodle restaurant in Illinois, and sometimes I crave the unique anise/ginger/umami broth. I had some rice noodles from Super H-Mart and some ground pork, and Mark Bittman's recipe calls for pork rather than the traditional beef, so I decided to try making it myself.
I made the scallion pancakes to go with the soup because Ben is more likely to eat soup if it has some "bread" on the side - or at least some crackers or chips he can dip into the soup. Besides, despite the short ingredient list, they are surprisingly delicious! I first ate them with Korean friends, and I make them now when I need some starch to go with an Asian meal. They are also from Mark Bittman (his How to Cook Everything cookbook mentioned in the post below).
This is the time of year for soup for dinner - I love it, and fortunately, so does the whole family!
Phở (adapted from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World)
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound ground pork
10 cups beef stock or broth
1 t. ground anise or 4 star anise
1/4 t. pepper
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced, or 1 t. ground ginger
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla) kind of like Asian worcestershire
1 T. sugar
1 pound dried rice noodles
Toppings: cilantro, basil, Thai chiles, scallions, limes
1. Set a stockpot over medium heat and add the oil. A minute later, add garlic and chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. When onion is cooked, add pork with a large pinch of salt. Turn heat to high; brown quickly, about 5 minutes. Add stock, anise, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar.
3. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the pork is cooked through. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles in boiling salted water until tender (follow package directions). Strain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
4. When the pork is cooked, add the noodles to the broth and reheat them. Remove star anise, if using. Divide soup among 6-8 serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro, basil, chiles, and scallions, squeezing lime juice over all.
Scallion Pancakes (adapted from How to Cook Everything - Bittman)
This recipe makes one pancake, but you can easily double it.
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little more.
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup boiling water, plus a little more if needed
1/2 cup. finely chopped scallions
1 T. vegetable oil
1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Slowly add boiling water, stirring until it forms a ball. Add a little more water if needed.
2. Knead by hand for about 1 minute. Place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let rest for an hour.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pancake out to about 1/4 inch thick. Press scallions into pancake.
4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium low heat. Cook pancake on one side until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides.
5. Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve warm.