Quick-and-Easy Vietnamese Pho Soup with Grilled Flank Steak


Quick-and-Easy Vietnamese Pho Soup with Grilled Flank Steak
This is a recipe adapted from Vietnamese chef Andrea Nguyen. I have always loved authentic pho, but have never attempted to make it because of the time and hassle in creating a proper soup stock from boiled beef bones. For this recipe, I improvised and added a bit of bacon fat to try to recreate that savory, slow-cooked flavor. It’s not perfect, but very close and a huge time-saver served as a weeknight meal.

A note on the fish sauce – some people love it, but you have to be pretty ballsy to throw a quarter-cup of the stuff in your soup pot, as called for in Andrea’s recipe. Knowing how intense the flavor is, I backed off to only three tablespoons and found it still borderline overpowering. I have edited my recipe to include only two tablespoons. Try it — you can always add more; it’s an authentic and necessary component of this dish.

My special Asian-marinated sliced flank steak takes center stage. An amazing recipe — Enjoy!


INGREDIENTS:

32 oz. store-bought beef stock
3 cups hot water
2 tbs. fish sauce
1 tsp. rendered bacon fat
1″ chunk ginger root, peeled, charred and cut into discs
1 large, whole shallot, peeled and sectioned, charred, then cut into 1/2″ slices
1 tbs. whole dry coriander seed
1 small cinnamon stick
6 whole dry cloves
2 tsp. powdered beef base
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
3 large green scallion, trimmed and cut at a bias into 1″ planks
2 fresh green chilis; Thai or semi-hot, seeded and sliced
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
2 handfuls fresh Thai queen basil
Lime wedges for garnish
1 brick Three Sisters Vietnamese vermicelli noodles (enough for two or three large, single portions. There are 6 bricks in a two-pound package.)

For the Grilled Steak~
1/2 lb. Black Angus flank steak, tenderized with a needle press
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed through a press
2 heaping tbs. Laoganma Black Bean Chili Sauce
2 tbs. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, to taste


DIRECTIONS:

About 12 hours prior to cooking, marinate the flank steak. Hit it generously with a needle tenderizer on both sides. Place in a zip-lock bag with 2 heaping tbs. Laoganma black bean chili sauce, 2 tbs. lime juice and 4 large cloves garlic, crushed in a press. Season with a bit of Kosher salt, seal tightly and ensure all surfaces of the meat are covered. Refrigerate, rotating ocassionally.

Charring the shallot and ginger: Place in a heavy cast-iron pot or fry pan (not enameled) and evenly char with a propane torch. Remove and set the shallot and ginger aside to cool. Then slice.

Preparing the soup stock: Set a heavy, cast-iron or enameled iron pot over medium-low heat and add the coriander seed. Stir until it just starts to toast, then add the bacon fat, sliced shallot and ginger. Continue stirring until slightly browned. Add the cinnamon stick, whole cloves and beef stock. Stir and bring to a rolling boil. Add the hot water, fish sauce, beef base and brown sugar. Cook at a rolling simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat and carefully strain out the solids in a colander. Discard the solids and return the stock back to the pot.

Preparing the flank steak: Time an outdoor charcoal fire so the steak will be done with the stock. Level the coals and place the steak over direct heat and sear about three minutes per side, until charred but medium rare. Remove and let rest for five minutes. Cut into 1/4″ strips at a bias, across the grain so it remains tender. Reserve covered.

Prepare the rice vermicelli according to package directions, boiling for about 7-8 minutes. Drain off the water and divide the noodles between bowls. The noodles should also be timed so they are done when the stock is done.

Pour a generous amount of stock over each bowl of noodles and top with the seared flank steak, green onion, Thai basil, green chili and cilantro. Squeeze in a bit of lime juice and serve immediately with hot chili garlic sauce, Sriracha and soy sauce on the side.

Serves 2-3. Chopsticks and Asian soup spoons are a must with this recipe.

NOTE: If the steak is a bit undercooked and bloody when slicing, do not worry. Adding the hot stock over the top will cook it through in less than a minute.

Fresh garden Thai queen basil and chilis.

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Asian Candied Almonds


Asian Candied Almonds | Culinary Compost Recipes

 

After experimenting with a glaze that was actually meant for chicken wings, I decided to also make candied almonds with it. This recipe is Asian inspired; the deep, complex flavor comes from just a bit of Sriracha and soy sauce with sesame oil. Let the glazed almonds set up in the fridge before adding the remaining brown sugar so it will adhere better.

Enjoy! I guarantee you’ll be eating more than one handful.

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups Blue Diamond® whole natural almonds
1/4 stick salted butter, melted
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbs. sriracha sauce
1 tbs. honey
1 tsp. garlic powder (not salt!)
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke seasoning
1 tsp. sesame oil
4 tbs. brown sugar for the glaze coating

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 300° F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, melt the butter for 20 seconds in your microwave. Add the remaining ingredients except for the almonds. Beat with a spatula for two minutes until thoroughly combined. Add the almonds and mix well.

Line a large cookie sheet with baker’s parchment paper and fold the edges up to form a lip on all four sides. Spread out the almond glaze mixture on the paper.

Bake uncovered for 12-14 minutes. There is no need to turn them. Remove and let cool slightly on your stovetop.

Spoon the mixture into a colander and let the excess glaze run off. Transfer to a covered bowl and place in your fridge for 1/2 hour to set up.

After a half hour, sprinkle 4 tbs. brown sugar over the top and fold in with a spatula until all of the nuts are evenly coated.

Serves 6

NOTE: If you bake the almonds any longer than the time indicated, you risk scorching the butter. Watch them carefully when baking.

 

Pan-Seared Japanese Shishito Peppers


Pan-Seared Japanese Shishito Peppers | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is a classic Asian appetizer recipe, traditionally served in Japanese restaurants as an accompaniment to sushi. The peppers are impossible to find in local supermarkets here, but I’m told you can get them fresh at Trader Joe’s — my brother had the foresight to plant them in his garden this year and was nice enough to share. While the chilies are reputedly very mild, the rumor is that one-in-ten are mind-numbingly spicy — so proceed with caution if you’re planning on serving them to hapless guests.  The recipe also traditionally calls for the Japanese Yuzu fruit, instead of a lemon or lime. If you can find one, use it.


Ingredients:

10 fresh garden Japanese Shishito peppers
2 heaping tbs. Panko bread crumbs, toasted in a skillet over medium-low heat
1 fresh lime – cut into eighths
Kosher salt
1 tbs. Sesame oil

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. hot chili sambal paste
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
Dash of fresh lime juice

 

Directions:

Rinse the peppers under cold water in colander. Pierce each with a toothpick and leave the stems on. Set aside. Preheat a cast-iron pan or wok over medium heat on a stovetop or outdoor charcoal grill.

Toast the Panko bread crumbs in a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat; about six to eight minutes, shaking often. Remove and transfer to a small serving bowl.

Prepare the dipping sauce ingredients and whisk together. Transfer to a small serving bowl.

When the skillet or wok is preheated, add the Shishito peppers and toss with about 1 tbs. sesame oil to coat. Spread them out and let them char slightly before turning. Turn and watch them so they don’t scorch. Total cooking time is roughly 10-12 minutes depending on the temperature of your grill or burner. Remove from the heat and add a dash of lime juice and Kosher salt. Stir and then sprinkle with the toasted Panko bread crumbs.

Serve with the soy dipping sauce.

Serves 4-6

Pan-Seared Japanese Shishito Peppers | Culinary Compost Recipes

Thai Dragon Noodles


thai dragon noodles prepared in a cast-iron wok

This is an amazing and economical dish that can be very spicy – control the heat by limiting the amount of hot chili used — but why would you want to?  The fish sauce is very traditional, but may be omitted if desired. Get everything measured and cut so you are ready to go, as the preparation only takes a few minutes.
Yum!

Ingredients:

1 8-oz. package Chinese wide Lo Mein noodles
6 cups of water
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbs. salted butter
1 tbs. soy sauce
1 dash of Asian fish sauce
1 tbs. packed brown sugar
1 tbs. Vietnamese “Rooster” chili garlic sauce or Sriracha, to taste
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Thai hot green chili, stemmed, seeded and cut into thin strips
2 scallion, trimmed and cut into 1″ chunks, sliced at a bias
1/2 cup trimmed and washed whole cilantro leaves
Lime wedges for garnish

 

Directions:

In a heavy stock pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil for the noodles. Prepare 4 ounces of the Lo Mein noodles according to package directions, and cook until al dente; just over four minutes.
(One eight-ounce package is enough for two people – the recipe shown here is for a single large serving.) Drain and set aside, covered.

While the noodles are cooking, prepare the sauce ingredients by mixing the brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and chili garlic sauce or Sriracha. Set aside.
A note on the fish sauce: A little bit goes a long way! The flavor is very intense, so use it sparingly.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy wok or skillet and add the garlic; stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and stir constantly until cooked through. Shut off the heat and add the sauce, sliced green chili, noodles, scallion and cilantro. Toss until coated.

Serve with lime wedge as a garnish.

 

Serves 1-2

thai dragon noodles recipe ingredients

Mike’s Firecracker Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli, Scallion


Firecracker Beef with Broccoli and Scallion

 

This Asian recipe can be quite hot – adjust the chilies according to your preference. Your wok must reach a temperature hot enough to quickly sear the steak and flash-fry the vegetables. I’ve found that cooking indoors on a stove just doesn’t accomplish this task. A charcoal grill and a cast-iron wok are perfect.
I use prime cuts of New York strip steak to ensure optimum flavor and tenderness.

Enjoy – this recipe is killer.

Ingredients:

1 10-oz. New York strip steak
10 small dry Thai chilies
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbs. brown sugar

1 head broccoli, trimmed
10 fresh market green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
4 scallions, trimmed and quartered, then split lengthwise
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced into 1/2″ strips
1 large carrot, peeled and quartered, then cut into thin planks

2 cups beef broth
2 tbs. corn starch

2 cups 5-minute rice, cooked according to package directions
Peanut oil

Directions:

Using a very sharp knife, trim the steak of excess fat. Cut into 1/4″ strips against the grain. Cut in half if the length of each strip is too long. Whisk the brown sugar and soy sauce in a small mixing bowl. Place steak in a 1-qt. ziplock bag with the soy sauce mixture, garlic and hot Thai chilies. Seal and let stand for 3 hours in your refrigerator. Rotate occasionally.

Wash, prep and cut all of your veggies so you have them ready. Allow all ingredients to stand at room temperature before cooking.

Prepare an outdoor charcoal gril with enough coal for a medium-hot fire. When the coals are white hot, place the wok on the grill grate. Do not spread out the coals – you will need the heat concentrated directly under the wok so the steak sears properly. Allow the wok to heat until a drop of water vaporizes immediately on contact.

Add 2 tbs. peanut oil to the wok and swirl to coat. When the oil starts to ripple, add the green beans, carrot and pepper and stir for about 5 minutes until just crisp-tender. Remove from heat and place in a covered serving bowl.

Remove the steak and chilies from the ziplock bag and add to the wok. Discard the soy sauce. Spread out and let sear for three minutes. Turn with a non-stick spatula and let sit another three minutes. Remove from heat and place in the covered serving dish.

Add the beef broth and corn starch mixture to the wok. Stir constantly until thickened -about two minutes. Add the scallion. Stir. Add back the steak and other vegetables and stir until just heated through. Remove from the wok and serve immediately over rice.

Serves 2-4

 

Firecracker Steak Stir-Fry - prepping the ingredients

Prepping the ingredients.

Firecracker Steak with Stir-Fry Veggies

Flash-frying the veggies.

Firecracker Beef with Stir-Fried Hot Asian Chilies

Adding the steak and chili peppers.

Thai Sweet Dipping Sauce – (Nam Jeem Guy Yang)


A versatile, basic sauce for Thai spring rolls, egg rolls or crab rangoon.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large garlic cloves, mashed through a press
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried hot Thai red pepper flakes
Slivered scallion for garnish

Directions:

In a small saucepan bring the vinegar to a boil. Stir in the sugar and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir garlic paste and red pepper flakes into vinegar. Cool.

Serve sauce at room temperature in individual condiment bowls for dipping with scallion.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Bangkok Thai Chicken


Here’s one for dedicated Thai foodies; this recipe is quite hot and a traditional favorite. I really dig making this on the outdoor charcoal grill with my 14-pound cast-iron Lodge wok. The results are fantastic, it doesn’t heat up the house and cleanup is a snap.

Ingredients:

4 spit skinned chicken breasts
2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. ground turmeric
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbs. garam masala
3 tbs. peanut oil
5 dried Thai chiles
4 stalks lemon grass, cleaned and minced
2 stalks green onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs. chili sauce or a dash of hot Sambal chili paste
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. lime juice
2 tsp. salt
1 cup diced carrots, blanched
1 cup cooked peas
15 fresh mint leaves

Steamed white rice

Directions:

Toss the chicken with the salt, turmeric, garam masala and cinnamon.

Cut off and discard the chili stems, shake out the seeds.

Place the dried chilies into a cup of boiling water and refresh for 10 minutes.

Drain and puree with the fresh chilies, the scallion, garlic and lemon grass in a food processor. Reserve.

Heat the peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Brown the chicken breast pieces and set aside.

Add the chili mixture to the wok, and cook for 4 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned.

Add the chicken back to the wok and cook, tossing, until cooked thoroughly.

Stir in the chili paste and vinegar, the salt, coconut milk and the lime juice.

Cook for several minutes after the mixture boils, to heat through, then add the vegetables and mint.

Toss and serve with steamed white rice.

Serves 4