Gnocchi with Asparagus
A traditional comfort food, gnocchi, brightened with fresh asparagus and a hint of hazelnut and sage...
1.3 kg beef oxtail (and/or knuckle) bones
450 g of beef bottom roast (this is optional because you can also use the beef from the bones. If you use it, slice it VERY thinly and set aside. You will add it to the broth right before serving)
1 large piece ginger, cut in half lengthwise
1 large brown onion, peeled and cut in half
1/4 cup fish sauce
1- 2 tablespoons sugar to taste
6-8 whole stars of anise
6 whole cloves
1 tsp of whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp of whole black peppercorns
3 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cardamom pods
1 tsp of fennel seeds
4 bay leaves
Salt to taste (Himalayan salt is recommended)
One package of Pho noodles (soak them in cold water for 30-45 minutes before you plan to eat)
2 cups of fresh bean sprouts
Several sprigs of mint
Several sprigs of basil
Several sprigs of cilantro
1 lime or lemon cut into wedges
1/2 onion sliced very thinly (soak in ice water for 30 minutes before serving)
Insert the soup spices into a tea diffuser on a long chain - all should fit except for the cinnamon sticks.
Put tea diffuser and the rest of your spices (the cinnamon sticks) into a large pot. Now, fill the pot up completely (almost to the top) with water.
Remove the scum that will rise to the surface once it starts boiling and discard.
Add fish sauce, sugar and salt to the boiling bones. Now, let it simmer for 10 hours. You could probably eat it at around 6 hours, but the flavours deepen the longer it cooks and the nutritional benefits increase, as well. Check on it occasionally and add water if the broth goes down too far. Taste it, as well, because as you add water it may need to be salted again, too.
Broil the onion and ginger. It may take 20 to 30 minutes depending on how hot your broiler is. Once is has been charred, add it to your cooking broth.
Once you’re nearing the 10 hours, prepare your fresh accompaniments.
Prepare the noodles. Get another large pot, fill it with water and let it boil. Once your water has come to a boil, you are ready to put your soaked Pho noodles in. You are really just blanching these noodles for about 30 seconds. You do not want to overcook them because they will cook further in the hot broth once you are ready to serve. Drain them after 30 seconds in the boiling water, and rinse them with cold water and set aside.
Put the thin slices of beef into the broth if you’re going to use them or omit if you’re going to just use the beef that’s in the broth. Put the noodles in your bowl, add the broth and top it with the accompaniments and condiments. Add a tablespoon of hoisin sauce to soup with a few squirts of Sriracha sauce and squirt a lemon or lime wedge on top to finish.
Photo Credits: Dario Milano