"I predict this is going to be ‘the next pho.' It's a beef-based soupy noodle dish from the central Vietnamese city of Hue, the old Imperial centre, and has sour, spicy, sweet and salty notes with a predominant flavour of lemongrass." ~ Luke Nguyen.
4 Tbs shrimp paste?
1 x 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) pork leg on the bone, skin on, cut into 2 equal-sized pieces
1 x 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) gravy beef joint (boneless beef shin), cut into 2 equal-sized pieces?
500 ml (18 fl oz/2 cups) fish sauce?
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) vegetable oil?
4 garlic cloves, bruised?
3 white onions, sliced into rings?
1 cinnamon stick, lightly pounded?
4 whole cloves?
2 Tbs cracked black pepper?
4 Tbs rock salt?
1 x 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) oxtail, cut into 3 cm (1¼ in) pieces
2 lemongrass stems, white part only, bruised?
1 bunch spring onions (scallions), white stems lightly bashed, green parts finely sliced?
1 small bunch Vietnamese mint?
2 Tbs sugar
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) thick rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
1 x quantity Shrimp Paste & Chilli Sauce (see page 90) or find in an Asian grocery.
2 lemons, quartered?
1 small bunch Vietnamese mint, torn?
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) bean sprouts?
Bird's eye chilli, sliced
Add the shrimp paste to a bowl with 500 ml (18 fl oz/2 cups) hot water. Stir to dissolve the shrimp paste and leave to steep for 1 hour, then strain and reserve the liquid, discarding the sediment.
Meanwhile, place the pork and beef in a large mixing bowl. Add 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of the fish sauce and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a saucepan over a low–medium heat. Add the garlic and two-thirds of the onion and stir-fry until soft and translucent. Wrap the softened onions and garlic in a 30 cm (12 in) square of muslin (cheesecloth) along with the cinnamon, cloves and black pepper, and tie with kitchen string to secure. Set aside.
Add the remaining fish sauce, rock salt, oxtail and 12 litres (420 fl oz/48 cups) of water to a very large saucepan or stockpot. Bring to the boil and skim off the impurities, then simmer for 30 minutes, skimming constantly.
Add the gravy beef, pork leg, lemongrass, the white part of the spring onions, the Vietnamese mint and the muslin bag to the saucepan and return to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, skimming regularly.
Carefully remove the meat from the stock and set aside, then add the reserved shrimp paste liquid and the sugar to the pan and continue to simmer gently for a another hour, or until reduced by half. Strain the soup through a fine sieve layered with muslin and leave to cool.
Pour 400 ml (14 fl oz) of stock per person into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Slice the gravy beef and pork leg into 3-mm (1/8-in) thick slices.
Divide the vermicelli noodles between individual bowls and add three beef slices, three pork slices, one oxtail piece and 2 teaspoons of the shrimp paste and chilli sauce to each. Pour over the boiling stock and top with the sliced spring onion greens and remaining onion slices.
Serve with lemon wedges, Vietnamese mint, bean sprouts and chilli slices on the side, and fish sauce and extra shrimp paste and chilli sauce for dipping.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Street Food Asia by Luke Nguyen published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $60 and is available in stores nationally.
Photo Credits: © Alan Benson.