If you ask my daughters what their mommy's favorite food is, they would tell you it's "Phở", the quintessential Vietnamese dish. Yes, a bowl of comforting Phở (Vietnamese beef/chicken noodle soup) will satisfy my tummy at anytime - I can eat it for a week!
Most of the time, I would make Phở Gà (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) as it is easier and less time consuming. A pot of Phở Gà can be cooked in an hour while Phở Bò (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) takes at least half of a day to prepare and cook.
Phở Bò Viên (Vietnamese noodle soup with meatballs) is no exception to Phở Bò but you can always take a short cut by using ox tail (đuôi bò) to make the broth which takes less time than using beef bones. A simple bowl of Phở Bò Viên is just Bò Viên and noodle. It's simple but flavorful. You can also enjoy Bò Viên with chicken broth, sprinkled with chopped scallions and white pepper and served as a soup.
Homemade food is always the best as we know exactly what goes in it. Some of the Bò Viên brands you would find at Asian stores are very chewy due to the hàn the (borax) that is added. In oriental cooking, hàn the used as a cooking ingredient is to add a firm rubbery texture to the food, or as a preservative. It is banned in the United States.
This Bò Viên recipe is very tasty and easy to make. The spicy ginger and aromatic garlic add bold flavors to Bò Viên. The result of Bò Viên is firm, crunchy but not chewy as you would find it in store-bought Bò Viên.
For those who live in Melbourne, click here to check out Cannings Free Range Butchers where they have a wide range fresh meat and seafood with home delivery too. How convenient that is!
RECIPE: Bò Viên
4 pounds lean Ground Beef Chuck or Ground Beef Shank (bắp bò); ask the butcher to ground it for you
2 bags Alsa Baking Powder
8 tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped Garlic
3 teaspoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Ground Pepper
2 teaspoons fresh grated Ginger
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix it well. Cover and place it in freezer for about 2-3 hours until the beef is really cold or frosty but not yet frozen. You can also place it in the frigde overnight instead freezer. This process will help the meat to bind together.
Remove from freezer or fridge then place it in the food processor with 1/4 of the beef at a time; do not overload the work bowl. Process to a completely smooth but firm paste. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Transfer the beef paste to another bowl. Process the remaining beef.
Place the beef in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This process will help make the beef balls more crunchy.
|Beef Chuck makes great meatball due to its richness of flavor and balance of meat and fat.|
|Beef Shank (bắp bò) is filled with tough, dense muscle tissues. It takes longer to cook meatball. The result of meatball is chewy and a little bit dry. |
Prepare a bowl of ice water. Set aside.
Use a spoon to scoop the meat and make it into balls. To avoid the beef from sticking on our hands, wet your hands and a spoon with water.
Place meatballs into the boiling water. When the meatballs float to the surface, let them cook for a few more minutes. The total time is about 7 minutes.
Remove meatballs and place them in an ice water bowl for about 3 minutes. By doing this, the meatballs will bind together and become crunchy.
Remove meatballs from ice water.
These meatballs may be frozen for a few months in the freezer. They actually taste crunchier after they have been in the freezer for awhile.
Add it in Pho broth to make a delicious bowl of Phở Bò Viên (Beef Noodle Soup).
Served separately as an appetizer with Sriracha and hoisin sauce.
Meatballs can also be added to a well-seasoned beef broth or chicken broth, sprinkled with chopped scallions and white pepper and served as a soup.