Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meatball Pho

The last time I made Pho was with Salmon and it was great although nothing compares to Pho with meatballs!  I was having a Vietnamese soup craving (weird, I know) and decided to use some of the leftover meatballs I made in this Florentine Mac and Cheese with Meatball recipe.  I wasn't sure if the meatballs would stay together in the soup, but sure enough they did and the dish was just what I wanted!  The recipe below is basically a merge of the two linked above, but with smaller meatballs.  To make things easier you can find the two recipes below.

Ingredients for Meatballs:

-1.5 lb of ground turkey (or chicken)
-2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or about 1 Tbsp dried)
-2 tsp fennel seeds
-3 cloves of garlic, grated
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 cup of low-fat ricotta cheese
-1 1/2 cups of shredded Parmesan cheese
-1 cup of bread crumbs (maybe more)
-1 egg

Ingredients for Pho:

-1 1/4 cup thinly sliced white onion
-1 Tbsp minced ginger
-1 Tbsp minced garlic
-1 Tbsp vegetable oil
-2 cups water
-4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
-2 Tbsp fish sauce
-1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
-3 whole cloves
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 bunch fresh cilantro
-Fresh or dried Shiitake mushrooms
-1/2 cup shredded carrots
-1/4 cup chopped green onions
-1 cup cooked rice-stick noodles

Optional for garnish:

-fresh bean sprouts
-additional chopped green onions
-torn fresh mint leaves
-torn fresh basil leaves
-sliced jalapeño pepper
-lime wedges
-Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce aka "Cock" Sauce
-Hoisin Sauce

I made my meatballs in advance and actually just pulled them out of the fridge and halved a few for each bowl of soup.  Here's how to make them.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a medium bowl mix all of the above meatball ingredients using your hands.  Roll into small to medium sized balls and placed on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes (this will vary depending on your size of meatballs, just check to make sure the pink is gone from the center). I used about 3 meatballs per soup (halved). 

Now is a good time to soak your rice noodles in hot water to soften them. 

To start the broth, saute 1 cup of thinly sliced onion, ginger and garlic in 1 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large pot.  I cheated a bit and used both jar ginger and jar minced garlic.  

Next, add water, broth, fish sauce, 1 Tbsp sugar, soy sauce, cloves, cilantro stems (reserve the leaves), and whole dried mushrooms (or just the stems of fresh ones).  I used dried because I had them in my pantry.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer broth for 20 minutes. This is a great time to assemble your garnish plate(s).  I put the dry items on a big plate for people to share and pull from.  For each soup or person I make a sauce dish with sriracha and hoisin sauce. 

After your broth is done simmering for about 20-30 minutes use a fine mesh stainer or sieve to separate the solids from liquids.  Just don't forget to put another large pot under the want to KEEP THE LIQUID. :)

All the solids can be discarded unless you used dried Shiitake mushrooms and would like to remove the stems, chop and add them to your soup. Put the broth back on the stove. Bring your broth back to a boil and add the carrots, mushroom caps (re-hydrated or fresh), 1/4 cup green onions, 1/4 cup thinly sliced onions,  and 1 Tbsp cilantro leaves. Stir the soup.

In a serving bowl place the meatballs and even amounts of softened rice noodles.  Ladle even amounts of soup in each bowl and serve piping hot! Use the variety of garnishes to flavor your soup to your liking.  You can even make it sweeter or spicier by adding some of the sauces!

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