“I very very much dislike this contemporary attitude that cooking makes you a better person, people who feel they are superior because they can cook … Anyone can cook for their own sustenance. And I do think at the moment there is an awful lot of smugness that goes on about people who cook as if it makes them better people, and it really really doesn’t”
- Nigella Lawson, College Tour, NTR Television
As much as I love cooking – and that entails the whole process from deciding what to eat and planning a week’s menu, which usually involves pouring over a couple of cookbooks for inspiration before making my shopping list, right through to the actual process of preparing the ingredients and creating a delicious dish – I don’t particularly enjoy anything about coming in the door at 6.30 pm in the evening and rushing to prepare something healthy and edible in time for a hungry Meneer Prins who will be walking through the door as well any minute from and counting. On those weeknights, I just simply want to eat. And it’s for that reason that I’m always on the lookout for healthy, quick and easy meal ideas that I can throw together without much thought. This recipe is one of those.
Beef Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a popular street-food dish in Vietnam. If you wanted to make it as authentically as possible, then you need to give a lot of attention to making a flavoursome broth or stock, using meat bones and charred ginger and onion. But for the purpose of a quick and easy weekday meal, just a stock cube will do. Of course, if you are in the habit of making beef stock and freezing it, then pull some out of the freezer in the morning before heading off for your busy day.
Another cheat in this recipe is the use of Chinese five spice mix, which includes all the main spices used to make a pho broth anyway. If you wanted to make your own ground spice mix, then you would use ground coriander seeds, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground cardamon pods, and ground fennel seeds.
This recipe has been adapted from Annabel Langbein’s Beef Pho in her book “Free Range in the City”. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally managed to complete my Annabel Langbein book collection and I’ve very much happy that I spend the money to have them shipped all the way over from her New Zealand bookstore. Why they aren’t available on Amazon I do not know. But click here if you are interested in ordering “Free Range in the City” online.