Monday, 28 January 2008
Come Sunday there is no excuse to not fill the house with wonderful aromas. It’s the perfect day for food that takes just a little bit longer. Some weekends, however, you don’t want to be chained to the kitchen yet still crave the deeply flavoured fare that only comes with slow cooking. Those are the Sundays I set an intensely flavoured stock to simmer in the morning, inhale its delicious aromas throughout the day and return in the evening to find the perfect base for a deeply comforting dinner.
This is not your standard nursery food stock of carrots and celery, although that certainly has its place. This aromatic beef broth with hints of South-East Asia and layers of spice is the perfect beginning for a quick noodle soup or a slow cooked hotpot filled with meltingly tender meat. In the colder months I favour the latter but while the weather is still pleasant I like to pair it with quickly grilled transparently thin slices of tender marinated beef. While I can’t make any promises as to authenticity I can assure you of the sort of deliciousness that has your scraping the bowl for that last spoonful of broth.
This is also my entry to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.
Spicy Beef and Rice Noodle Soup
1 kg chicken bones
1 knob ginger
1 onion quartered
4 cloves garlic with skin
1/2 tsp peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
1 tsp brown sugar
3 star anises
1 packet rice noodles
300g/10oz scotch fillet
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbsp soy sauce
Sliced spring onions
sliced fresh chilli
In a non-reactive bowl rub your beef with the sesame oil, crushed garlic and soy sauce. Place in the fridge to marinate.
In a dry pan briefly toast your star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns and cardamom.
Place your chicken bones in a large pot and fill with enough cold water to cover the bones completely. Bring the water to the boil and add the remaining ingredients except the noodles and fish sauce. Turn the heat down to the smallest whisper, cover with a lid and leave to infuse over the course of the day. For a quicker stock you can turn the heat up to a simmer and leave for just 30 minutes.
When you are ready to eat skim the stock and strain. Season with fish sauce to taste. Return to the heat.
Prepare the rice noodles according to package instructions. These usually require you cover them with hot water until they are softened.
While the noodles are softening, on a grill pan or bbq briefly sear the scotch fillet on the highest heat. The meat will continue cooking once added to the soup so you are only seeking a charred exterior with a meltingly pink interior. 2 minutes per side should suffice.
Drain the noodles and add them to the pot of warm broth. Slice the beef as finely as possible.
To serve divide the noodles between two bowls and ladle over the broth. Arrange the beef slices on top and scatter with bean sprouts, chilli, coriander and spring onions. Serve with lemon wedges.