Sunday, January 24, 2010

CSA week seven - Not quite banh pho xao he

This is a pretty straightforward vietnamese noodle dish modified from using a pound of garlic chives to using everything leafy and green within reach. The recipe I modified was from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen cookbook.

I cut the recipe down by about a quarter to adjust for the amount of noodles I had on hand. I'm going to use the original amounts to avoid weird numbers.

1 pound banh pho flat rice noodles
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, divided
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1/3 pound ground pork, broken up into bits
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound assorted leafy green vegetables [I used 1 bunch each of garlic chives, mizuna, swiss chard and cilantro], chopped or torn into 3- to 4-inch-wide pieces.
1 lime

1. Put the noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let them soak until pliable and opaque, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Cut into short lengths. The original recipe called for 3 to 4 inches, but I liked them a little longer.

2. Coarsely grind the shrimp into pea-sized pieces. Break up the pork into similarly sized pieces and mix with the shrimp.

3. Mix the fish sauce, water and 1 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl.

4. Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. If it took less time and/or the garlic started to brown, turn the heat down; this isn't real stir-frying. Add the shrimp and pork. Break up the meat and add the salt and remaining sugar. Cook, stirring and breaking up clumps, until shrimp and pork have turned opaque, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the greens. Stir and fold to mix in the shrimp and pork and get different bits of the greens on the bottom. When the greens have wilted down by a third, add there's room in the wok, add the noodles. Mix well and add the fish sauce mixture. Turn the heat up until the sauce starts to sizzle and continue stirring 2 to 3 minutes longer, until the noodles and greens are soft and the noodles have absorbed a bit of sauce and darkened in color.

6. Remove from heat and squeeze in the juice from the lime. Mix once again and serve.

Hmm. Not bad. The shrimp and pork are, of course, great together and enhanced by the fish sauce. [When genetically modified lab-grown meat improves (right now they can just do a meat paste suitable for hot dogs and not much else and they have to use cells from animals that actually exist), they really ought to work on shrimp-pig.]

The chard goes pretty well with the other flavors and adds a substantially different flavor and texture than the garlic chives which I think is an improvement in the dish. The mizuna and cilantro seem to have wilted away to nothing, though, which is a shame.

I used the milder Vietnamese fish sauce so it's a low key dish that could do with some nuoc cham (or at least a little more fish sauce and lime juice) and sriracha to perk it up and maybe some fried garlic or shallots for crunch. Most Vietnamese recipes, I think, assume you've got your condiments and garnishes on hand to finish the seasoning of the dish. I added ground peanuts to my first serving, but the flavor isn't quite right. Fried garlic is a much better choice.


kat said...

That sounds really good, might have to play with that idea myself

Russell Hews Everett said...

Mmmm Shrimpig(TM)...

Ravenous Couple said...

great use of banh pho rice noodles....they're great in stir fry

billjac said...

You've got to be careful with them though. Sometimes they come out mushy for me and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong when that happens.

Miami Reid said...

Bill, I share your love of science. The average person I meet doesn't want to hear about science, which baffles me. Check out my cousin Knox's resume. His Dad Knox Sr. started the United States Air Force Science Program.Do you know a rocket scientist named Jerry Gray? I met him around 2006,when he was about 85 and he still was doing consulting work. I asked him which graduate school he went to for aerospace.He smiled and said, "There's only one school for aerospace." "Oh, and what is that?" "Cal Tech of course." Reid Millsap