Monday, June 14, 2010

Ingredients, Methods, Secrets Pho-Pho Phoever & BBQ

Last week we decided to do a three day run - its kind of like a test - for if we ever have a venue/ restaurant, we'd have to work every day! So we're trying it out with three days - just for practice's sake.


-Ho Fun With Crispy Pork Belly & Cured Ham
-Beef Pho
-Chargrilled Lemongrass Pork Patties
-Seared Beef Salad In Shrimp Paste Dressing, 
Lime, Coriander, Peanuts, Sugar Snap Peas & Chips
-Tomatoes & Tofu/ Or Fried Pak Choi In Oyster Sauce
-Slow Cooked Caramelised Catfish in Coconut Juice
-Coconut Sorbert

Ho Fun With Crispy Pork
Simon loves his meat - we roasted a belly of pork for the Ho Fun dish. It was an experiment and was not really Vietnamese tasting as it had non Vietnamese spices but it was really good nevertheless. We love playing around with flavours and pairing them with whats conventional.
Crispy Pork Belly Method: 
Blow torch on both sides to brown. Bake 150 C for 120 mins
Rub salt and pepper or in this instance - cajun.
220 C for 30 mins
You can buy the Ho Fun fresh every morning on Mare Street at a Vietnamese factory. They are made with Spring Onions and dried prawns. You can eat it cold or you can heat it up by steaming them in a bowl over hot water or simply put them in a microwave. Then you cut them up into desired lengths.
I usually eat these with Vietnamese hams - 'Cha', cured/ fermented hams like 'Nem' - sometimes with just good soy sauce. Sprinkle with dried shallots and coriander. But of course if you put a little effort in to make a great sauce - it's like you've died and gone to heaven.
Ho Fun Sauce Ingredients:
I am terribly bad at knowing the right quantities of ingredients - Simon is still shaking his head at me because I have never written it down and he wants me to share my sauces with him but as much as I want to share it with myself, I haven't gotten around to measuring because I like to do everything with instinct and taste.

I can not stress enough how important it is to buy premium fish sauce. The 3 Crabs one is the one we use - its the best one in our opinion. It costs about £5 - far from the £1.50 bottle and you can certainly taste the difference.
To make about 250ml - (these are purely estimates) Please do not add all of it at once - add as you go

about 75ml 3 Crabs Fish Sauce
about 125ml Coconut Juice
2 or 3 Limes to taste
Blend some chillis (about 4/5), garlic (3 cloves)
Teaspoonful of Honey to taste or you can use sugar.

Put together in a jar, stir to taste and keep getting that balance of salty-sour- sweet. I have also discovered that once you think you have found your balance - shaking the jar vigorously makes a huge difference to the taste of the sauce. All the flavours gets released and bursts in your mouth!

Beef PHO

You can find my method and list of ingredients in an older post here.
However, there have been some developments. I am no longer using the stock cubes because I am cooking it for a good 8 hours or more on low heat.
For a clear broth, I boil my ribs, shank, oxtails in salted water until the pot is full of froth and scum. Then I throw all the water away and wash all my bits completely clean. The I let it sit for about 15 minutes - all the blood will release - then I wash it again until the water in my bowl is not bloody anymore.

This is when I put everything into a big stock pot with clear, clean water. The secret ingredient I discovered is to cook all the beef with half a chicken (or even a whole one). Chicken stock is amazing - it gives everything a depth and I found that my Pho tastes better than ever now that I've cooked the beef ribs and oxtails with it.

Also, remember to keep the lid on and keep it on a gentle boil for a clear broth. After about half an hour, take the chicken out - you can have it in Pho later or mid way... or use it in a salad - its endless - what you can do with chicken!
Lemongrass Pork Patties
These are meant to be eaten with vermicelli and a herb salad - but because we had so much rice products on the menu - we just served them alone. They are great in a barbeque too.

Enough for 25 people: this is a rough estimate of what goes in - doe fry a bit and taste and adjust.

2kg Shoulder Of Pork - Minced by our fab butcher
4 bulbs Garlic blended10 x Small Shallots blended
8 x Lemongrass finely chopped or blended
4 tbs Olive Oil
2 tbs Pork Flavouring
1 thumb of Galangal
2 tbs Fish Sauce
4 tbs Honey
2 tbs Brown Sugar
4 tbs Red Wine
4 tbs Cornflour
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Mix together with your hands - get in there!
Leave overnight
You can shape them into little balls and grill with skrewers or you can fry them, barbeque them...

We served them with mint.

Seared Beef Salad In Shrimp Paste Dressing

We had never made this dressing before, the sauce is Cambodian inspired. We love playing around with sauces and making things taste different than expected. When you make this - it stinks a bit - but fear not - its really delicious!

Ingredients for Sauce- For about 6 people

1 Palm Sugar
1 and half tsp Shrimp Paste - into a mug of hot water - dissolve
Juice of 3 Limes
1 Red Chilli half de-seeded - chopped

Brown the following in a pan:
2 Lemongrass Stalks - blended -
2 Shallots
2 Garlic Cloves

Melt the palm sugar and add everything else in.
Shake in a jar and leave to rest for about an hour or so to let the lemongrass and all the flavours release.
Drain and then pour over fillet steak pieces.

We sliced up sugar snap peas and garnished with peanuts and coriander. The shrimp flavour really compliments the beef -that has just been seared on both sides.

Caramelised Catfish In Coconut Juice
Coconut Sorbet

Ingredients: for about 6 people

3/4 cup of caster sugar
120ml coconut milk
50g desiccated coconut
a good squeeze of lime

Sugar and a cup of water in the pan, bring to boil until sugar has dissolved.
Reduce and simmer for about 5 minutes
Stir in coconut milk, coconut and lime juice.
When cool, put into freezer for about an hour, then take out and reblend until smooth and creamy.
Freeze until frozen

The 3 day run was a success. After the first day - we learn how to put things in place and make life easier for ourselves the next. We cooked everything from scratch every day, ensuring we serve all our guests fresh and wholesome food. We had a fantastic time! Our guests were all so happy and that is so great to see. Great atmosphere as always!

You can read a review from Gourmet Lovers who attended here.

After the 3 days, it was my birthday so we invited some friends and had a BBQ!
Ribs, sausages, bellies, burgers, aubergines, sweetcorn firing away! Everyone bought something - it was amazing and very generous. In the far east, it means I will have lots of prosperity and success in the coming year. whooot! We watched the first England game against USA in the World Cup and drank to our hearts content.
It was such a good birthday. So good - we forgot to serve the coconut sorbet we had made for everyone. More matches = more BBQ!!! yay!


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