February 27, 2011
Somewhat recently, I discovered Vietnamese Pho and its cousin Hue. There are a number of restaurants in town that dedicate almost their entire menu to these hot and spicy soups. At first, they seemed so exotic and indulgent with the fresh bean sprouts and peppers topping the hot rich broth perfumed with fresh basil or cilantro. When I first made the soup myself though, I realized how incredibly simple and healthy they are. A few simple fresh ingredients come together with some basic Asian cooking staples: rice noodles, fish sauce, and sambal oeleck. The result is a hot and spicy nourishing soup.
To speed up cooking time, consider cooking the broth and meat in a pressure cooker. In just ten minutes, the meat is cooked to an almost divine tenderness. You save time and energy, and the dish is possibly more delicious than the traditional method of slow simmering.
This recipe for Vietnamese Hue Noodle Soup is incredibly versatile. Feel free to substitute chicken or even tofu for the beef (and decrease the cooking time). The garnish is also very adaptable. We have an uncommon fondness for cabbage, so that is our go-to condiment, but that can be replaced with bean sprouts as well. Trade the fresh hot peppers for dried chilies if you prefer. If you do not have lime on hand, give the soup a splash of rice vinegar at the end to add the bright acidic finish. This soup is very good, one of our favorites. Try it and let me know what you think!