Archive for NOODLES

Easy Phở

Phở is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with an intensely flavorful broth poured over flat rice noodles and garnished with thinly sliced meat.  A friend once told me that what I just described is considered the “northern Vietnamese Phở” whereas the “southern Vietnamese” version adds aromatic herbs.  I like the southern version myself.  The more vegetables and herbs, the better. 🙂

Phở also varies with the types of condiments, vegetables and noodles used.  Most Vietnamese restaurants serve phở with a side of bean sprouts, Thai basil (not the sweet basil commonly added to pasta sauces), cilantro or coriander leaves, and various hot chili peppers.  You might see a squeeze bottle filled with hoisin sauce, or get a small bowl of fish sauce served alongside your phở.  Hot pepper sauce in lieu of fresh hot peppers is also an option.  As for the varieties of noodles used, rice is most common, but you can use potato noodles as well.

I’ve also had phở a little more on the sweet side, and other restaurants I’ve been to serve their phở less sweet or not sweet at all.  My preference is to omit the sugar.  I like a savory and aromatic broth, not a sweet one.

You can use beef or chicken in your phở.  Your choice of meat will determine your choice of broth.  My family likes beef phở so I use beef broth.  Chicken phở, logically, uses chicken broth.

Speaking of broth, I think this is what determines a GOOD Phở from an average or so-so one.  You can serve as many different herbs and vegetables as you like with the broth, but if the broth is flavorless, you might as well call your concoction a tea, or water infused with herbs.   As your broth cooks, get a whiff of it — if the aroma doesn’t make you want to dunk your face into the pot, then you need to add some spice to it.

You can find my complete recipe at the bottom of this post.  Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

These are the ingredients I like to use.image

If you have the time, homemade beef broth from scratch is always best, but you can use good quality ready-made broth.  To save time, I use 100% natural, low sodium broth.  If you want a less concentrated broth, you can use 1/2 broth and 1/2 water, but you may need to add some salt.  Just make sure you have enough liquid as called for in my recipe below.

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Fish sauce goes into the broth, but a little goes a long way.  You only need a couple of tablespoons of this pungent but flavorful sauce.  Don’t omit it…while you can’t really tell it’s in the broth, you CAN tell that something is missing from it if you don’t add it.  I recommend using Three Crabs Brand fish sauce.  It’s not as pungent as most other brands.

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Look in the Hispanic foods section of your grocery store for a small package of cilantro cubes.  It will most likely be next to other bouillon-type seasonings.  I add fresh cilantro leaves to the finished dish, but adding cilantro seasoning to the broth gives it a greater depth of flavor.

Anise seed and star anise

I also use anise seed to flavor my broth.  You can find it in the spice section of your grocery store.  If you have some star anise already on hand, you can use that instead of anise seed, but you’ll need 3 whole star anise to every tablespoon of anise seed for my recipe.  If these ingredients are new to you, star anise and anise seeds are two very different spices.  Anise is an herb in the parsley family and produces small seeds with a strong, licorice-like flavor.  Star anise is the star-shaped fruit of a tree that’s a member of the magnolia family.  The two spices contain the same flavor compound, a substance called anethole, but whole star anise is a bit more bitter in my opinion.

whole clovesWhole cloves go into the broth, and like the other ingredients I described above, this packs quite a flavor punch.  You only need a few — I use about 6 in my recipe.  If you’re not familiar with whole cloves, you might recognize it as those tiny wood-like spikes studding a baked ham.  See the picture on the right for what it looks like.  You can find it in the spice section of your grocery store.

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You’ll need a few more aromatic and savory ingredients to flavor the broth. Into the pot goes some whole cinnamon sticks, chopped garlic (lots of it), and fresh ginger.

Pictured on the left (clockwise from the top) are Whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, garlic, ginger, cilantro cubes, and anise seeds.

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At the local Asian market where I live, there are several different brands and types of dried noodles.  Look for the package that says “Bánh Phở”.  This is the brand I buy (see the photo on the right).  The noodles are in little bundles within the package.  I cook about half the package for my family of four, estimating about two bundles per person (my husband, who usually orders a LARGE bowl of phở at Vietnamese restaurants, gets three bundles).

Now let’s get down to the business of making Phở.

First, you’ll need to get the broth going.  Place the broth (or broth-water mixture) in a large soup pot.

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Add the fish sauce and the rest of the herbs and aromatics (cloves, cinnamon sticks, garlic, ginger, cilantro cubes and onions).  Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-high.  Bring this to a rolling boil.  Most of the herbs will sink to the bottom of the pot as the broth cooks.  If you have a small cheesecloth, you can place all of the aromatics in it, creating a sachet d’espice.  Or, just before serving, pour the broth through a strainer and into a large bowl, discard the aromatics then return the broth to the pot.  Bring the broth to a boil again before serving.  I actually don’t bother straining this out.  You can safely eat the cooked onions and any anise seeds that find their way into your bowl.  However, I recommend discarding any cloves, cinnamon and large pieces of ginger that accidentally get poured into your bowl.

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While the broth is happily cooking, prepare the vegetables.  Rinse the leafy greens and bean sprouts.  Slice the onions and peppers.  Arrange everything on a large platter.

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Slice the limes into wedges.  That’s hoisin sauce in the little bowl.  My youngest daughter and husband like stirring some hoisin sauce into their broth.  My oldest daughter and I prefer it without.

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Slice the beef as thinly as you can.  It’s easier to create thin slices when the meat is still partially frozen.  I like using flank steak, but you can use any cut of lean beef.  The reason for slicing the beef as thin as possible is because it’s cooked only when you pour the boiling broth over it.  If you prefer to cook the beef instead of adding it raw, it’s simple — just add the sliced beef to the pot of boiling broth.

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Once the vegetables and meat are prepped, it’s time to get the noodles going.

Set a medium pot filled 3/4 full with water to boil.

Fill a large bowl with hot water.  Add the dry noodles to the bowl.  Let the noodles soak in the hot water for about 5 minutes, or until pliable.

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As soon as the pot of water comes to a boil, and once the noodles are soft and pliable, you’ll need to cook the noodles.  Place some of the noodles in a metal colander or strainer.  Use a strainer that can fit easily into your pot of boiling water.  You’re going to submerge the strainer — noodles and all — into the hot water.  Do not dump the noodles into the pot.  The reason for using the strainer is so that you can easily lift the noodles out of the pot.

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Keep the noodles submerged in the boiling water for about a minute.  The noodles don’t take long to cook.  Lift the strainer out of the pot, allowing the water to drain out.

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Place the drained noodles into your serving bowl.

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Add some sliced beef to the bowl.

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Pour the boiling-hot broth over the meat and noodles.

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It’s important to keep the broth at a rolling boil right up until you’re ready to serve.  The hot liquid cooks the raw meat.  If you’re cooking the beef in the broth, just be sure to scoop out some meat and pour it into the bowl along with the broth.

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Add some of the sliced onion to the bowl.  The hot broth will begin to cook this too.

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Now you can add the rest of your vegetables.  I like adding a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts to my bowl.

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Add some cilantro leaves and Thai basil, tearing up large leaves into small pieces.  Add sliced peppers if you like your soup spicy.  My husband adds a Chamorro twist to this by stirring in lots of Tabasco sauce AND donne’ dinanche. 🙂

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Squeeze some lime juice over the top, and add some hoisin sauce too if you’d like.

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Serve and ENJOY!

 

Easy Phở
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Broth:
  • 3 quarts beef broth (4 quarts if you prefer more broth than noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 6-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetables:
  • ½ small onion, very thinly sliced
  • 4 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
  • 1 bunch Thai basil, leaves only
  • 2 limes
Other:
  • ½ pound flank steak or other lean beef
  • 8 small bundles dry phở noodles
Optional:
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
  • 1 hot red chili pepper (Thai, Dragon, or other pepper), sliced
  • Sriracha pepper sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
Instructions
Prepare the broth:
  1. Place the broth in a large soup pot. Add the fish sauce, anise seed, cloves, cinnamon sticks, garlic, ginger and onion. Bring to a rolling boil.
Prepare the vegetables and beef:
  1. Rinse the bean sprouts, cilantro and Thai basil. Remove the thick, large stems from the cilantro and basil. Place the clean vegetables on a large serving platter along with the sliced onion and peppers.
  2. Slice the limes into thin wedges. Place on the serving platter.
  3. Slice the beef as thin as you can. It's easier to slice partially frozen meat then when it's thawed out completely. Place onto a separate serving dish.
Prepare the noodles:
  1. Fill a medium sized pot ¾ full of water; bring to a boil. Meanwhile, soak the dry noodles in a bowl of hot water. Once the noodles are pliable, place in a metal strainer, one that can fit into the pot with boiling water, and one that can be removed easily. Dip the metal strainer (with the noodles) into the boiling water. Let the noodles cook for a minute then lift the strainer from the pot and allow the water to drain. Place the noodles into your serving bowl.
Assemble the soup:
  1. Place the beef slices on top of the noodles. Pour the hot broth over the meat; the boiling hot broth will cook the raw meat. If you prefer not to use raw meat, you can add the slices of beef to the pot of hot broth to cook it.
  2. Add the thinly sliced onion next, then add the bean sprouts, cilantro and Thai basil.
  3. Add sliced peppers and pepper sauce if you like your soup spicy.
  4. Drizzle some hoisin sauce over the top if you want your broth a bit more salty.
  5. Enjoy!

 

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Chicken Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad one of my family’s favorite side dishes.  There are many, many macaroni salad variations, but we’re simple…we like two specific kinds.  The first is a Hawaiian style macaroni salad and the other is Filipino style Macaroni salad.

My recipe below is for a very basic Filipino macaroni salad.  It has chicken, cheese, pineapple, and sweet relish, but you can also add other ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs, ham, and raisins.  Some of my Filipino friends also add a spoonful or more of sweetened condensed milk, but I don’t like mine too sweet (to me, the relish and pineapples add just the right amount of sweetness) so I don’t add it.

This dish is best made the night before you intend to serve it.  An overnight stay in the ‘fridge allows all the pasta to absorb all the delicious flavors.

I like to add lots of chicken (more than what I have in my recipe below) whenever I want to serve this as my main dish.  It’s great for packed lunches, and it’s also a quick and easy pot-luck dish.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Chicken Macaroni Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken breast
  • Salt, black pepper, and garlic powder (for the chicken)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 cups cooked macaroni
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (for the macaroni salad)
  • 1 10-ounce jar sweet pickle relish, with as much juice squeezed out as possible
  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, with as much juice squeezed out as possible
  • 7 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, diced

Directions:

NOTE:  The photos below of the chicken show around 9 or 10 chicken breasts.  We like to cook several chicken breasts at a time so that we can use it throughout the week in various dishes.  We used one breast to make this salad; about 6 breasts were used in my daughter’s Chicken Marsala, and a couple more went into my daughter’s other dish, Mac-n-cheese with Chicken.  Cooking in bulk is a great way to save time during the week, especially if you’re pressed for time each morning.  It saves time at night too, when you’re trying to prepare dinner after a long day at work or school.

Prepare the chicken.

Place the chicken breast into a ziplock bag.  Use a kitchen mallet to flatten the chicken into about 1/4-inch thickness.

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Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt, black pepper and garlic powder.

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Dredge the seasoned chicken breast in the flour, covering both sides.

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 Place a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the vegetable oil to the pan.

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 Place the chicken in the pan when the pan and oil are hot.  Reduce the heat to medium.

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 Cook the chicken for about 4-6 minutes on each side.

Turn occasionally to evenly brown both sides.

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 Shred or thinly slice the cooked chicken and set it aside.

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Prepare the macaroni salad.

Place the shredded chicken breast, cooked macaroni, black pepper, relish, crushed pineapple, cheese and mayo in a large mixing bowl.  Add in any other optional ingredients.

Gently fold all of the ingredients together.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve and ENJOY!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is comfort food at it’s best.  This soup is quick and easy to make.  Cook up a batch when you’re feeling under the weather, or when you need something to warm you up on cold days.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Chicken Noodle Soup 

 Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I use garlic-infused olive oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small bag baby carrots, sliced
  • 6 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Dashida (or you can use 2 chicken flavored bouillon cubes)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 bag (8.8 ounces) dry egg noodles (see the photo below)

Directions:

Place a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil to the pot.  Heat the oil for about a minute.

Add the chicken pieces to the pot.

Cook the chicken until they are no longer pink.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot.  Stir to combine the ingredients.

Cook over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.

Add the chicken stock, water, and Dashida (or bouillon) to the pot.

Add the bay leaves.

Add the black pepper.

Add the parsley.

Bring the soup to a boil then add the egg noodles.

This is the brand of egg noodles that I like to use.  You can use any brand you like.

After about 5 minutes (or until the noodles are done), remove the bay leaves from the soup.

Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Serve while hot and ENJOY! 😀

 

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Chicken Stir Fry with Udon Noodles

According to Chinese folklore, noodles represent long life and good health. So, here’s my contribution to living a long, healthy life! 🙂

All kidding aside, you can add this recipe to you list of healthy options by changing up a few of the ingredients (read more below for my healthy substitutions).

This also is another of those versatile dishes that can be changed up according to the vegetables and meat you prefer. The vegetables I add to this recipe vary depending on what looks most fresh in the grocery store.

Chicken Stir Fry with Udon Noodles

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 chicken thighs (or 2 chicken breasts if you want a healthier version)
  • 1 small head of cabbage
  • 4 stalks green onions
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 package pre-cut carrots
  • 1 package udon noodles
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the ingredients — thinly slice the chicken, cabbage, green onions, mushrooms and bell pepper.

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. You can substitute the udon noodles for a gluten-free or whole wheat noodle of your choosing.

Set the cooked noodles aside.

Place the chicken in a large skillet over medium high heat. If you use a non-stick skillet, you do not need to add any oil to the pan, although a bit of sesame oil will add flavor to this dish.

Add the garlic, seasonings, hoisin sauce and soy sauce. To cut back on the sodium in this dish, cut the hoisin sauce in half and use low sodium soy sauce.

Add the carrots to the pan.

Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan.

Stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the sliced cabbage.

Stir and cook for another couple of minutes, just until the cabbage starts to wilt.

Add the bell peppers.  If you prefer the peppers to be cooked longer, add them when you add the carrots.  I like mine cooked only just a little so that they’re still crunchy, so I add them almost at the end of the cooking process.

Stir to combine.

Gently stir in the noodles.

Add the green onions.

Stir gently so you don’t mash the noodles. Cook for another minute then serve and ENJOY!

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Chicken & Spinach Alfredo Lasagne Roll-ups

I love good pasta.  Two of my favorites are chicken alfredo and lasagne, so how about we combine the two?

This is a rolled version.  I love how easy it is to serve up individual portions — all you have to do is scoop up a roll (or two).  There’s no messy cutting involved here!

To make this dish a bit more nutritious, I added frozen spinach — two entire boxes of it too! Even my daughter (who is an extremely picky eater) scarfed up her dinner, green stuff and all!

Give my recipe a try.  It’s so tasty, I know you’ll love it! 🙂

Chicken & Spinach Alfredo Lasagne Roll-ups

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Ingredients:

The meat of 1 small roasted chicken
20 lasagne noodles, cooked al dente
2 10-oz packages frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1 15-oz. package shredded Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 stalks green onions
2 15-oz containers ricotta cheese
3 jars alfredo sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Shred the chicken. I’m all for a bit of convenience here and there so I used a small rotisserie chicken to save time.  Here are the Before and After photos. 🙂

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Place the spinach into a medium sized mixing bowl.

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Add the Parmesan cheese.

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Add the eggs.

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Add the seasonings.

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Add the green onions.

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Add the ricotta.

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Mix all of the ingredients together. (It looks ‘kinda like spinach dip, doesn’t it?) 🙂

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Lay the noodles on a flat surface.

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Spread about 4 teaspoons of the spinach mixture onto the noodle.

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Add shredded chicken to the top of the spinach mixture.

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Roll up the noodle, jelly roll style.

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Pour alfredo sauce in the pan, just enough to cover the bottom.

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Place the pasta rolls over the sauce.

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Pour alfredo sauce over the top of the pasta.

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This recipe made enough for one 9×13 pan plus a smaller square pan! Yay! There will be enough leftover to pack 4 lunches the the next day!

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Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese all over the top.

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Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

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It’s done!

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Serve with a slice of garlic toast.  Enjoy!

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