Escape winter with food from faraway lands

As the snow drifts down this January, there are many snow birds who make their escape to a warm destination. Alas, there are many who must stay behind in this cold land. But snuggle in with your favourite cookbook and experiment. Thanks to Foodland Ontario these recipes from the Far East will get your taste buds zinging in your own cosy kitchen.

Saigon Beef Pho

Pho is Vietnam’s famous noodle soup and a delicious way to combat Canadian winter! The fragrant beef broth can be made ahead and the soup assembled just before serving.

3 lb (1.5 kg) beef bones
4 cups (1 L) sodium-reduced beef broth
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, skin on, cut into wedges
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and cut into 4-inch (10 cm) pieces (smash with a meat mallet or rolling pin)
1 3-inch (3.75 cm) piece fresh gingerroot, skin thinly sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 whole star anise (available at Bulk Barn)
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) each, coriander seeds and black peppercorns
1 tbsp (15 mL) each, fish sauce and sodium-reduced soy sauce
8 oz (250 g) boneless sirloin steak or beef filet
8 oz (250 g) thin rice stick noodles

1 cup (250 mL) thinly shredded savoy cabbage
1/3 cup (80 mL) each, coriander, mint and basil, torn
Fish sauce or soy sauce
Fresh lime juice
Hot sauce such as sriracha or sambal oelek

In large pot, bring 8 cups (2 L) of water and beef bones to a boil, skimming off any foam with slotted spoon. Add beef broth, garlic, onions, lemongrass, ginger, carrot, anise, coriander seeds and peppercorns. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and skimming as necessary.

Strain through fine sieve and into a separate large pot; discard solids. Stir in fish sauce and soy sauce. Refrigerate broth until ready to use.

For easy slicing, freeze steak for 10 minutes, then cut as thinly as possible with sharp knife on the cross-grain. Cook noodles in boiling water for 1 minute; drain, rinse with cold water, drain again. Using scissors, cut noodles crosswise. Divide among four large soup bowls. Top evenly with raw beef slices. Measure 6 cups (1.5 L) broth; bring to rapid boil and immediately ladle into bowls – broth will cook beef. Remaining broth can be refrigerated or frozen.

Toppings: Garnish each bowl with cabbage, coriander, mint and basil. Serve with fish sauce lime juice and hot sauce to taste.

Tip: Making the stock ahead of time and chilling allows you to skim off excess fat.

Makes four servings, about 10 cups (2.5 L) broth.

Banh Mi (Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches)

A street food staple in Vietnam, it is a meal in a sandwich to be enjoyed for lunch or supper. For easy preparation, marinate and cook the chicken ahead and prepare the pickled vegetables the night before, then assemble the sandwich just before serving.

Pickled Vegetables:
1/2 cucumber
1 carrot, coarsely shredded (about 1 cup (250 mL)
1/4 cup (60 mL) rice vinegar
2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) grated fresh gingerroot
1 tsp (5 mL) salt

Chicken Filling:
1 lb (250 g) about 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup (60 mL) sweet Asian chili sauce
2 tbsp (30 mL) sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) each, fish sauce and vegetable oil
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Chinese five-spice powder (available Bulk Barn)
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper

Chili Mayonnaise:
1/4 cup (60 mL) low-fat mayonnaise
2 tsp (10 mL) Asian chili garlic sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh lime juice
1 baguette (about 24 inches/60 cm) cut into 4 pieces
Coriander leaves
Sriracha hot sauce (optional)

Pickled Vegetables: Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Cut into matchsticks and place in bowl with shredded carrot. In separate bowl combine vinegar, sugar, ginger and salt; stir to dissolve sugar. Pour over vegetables and let stand at least 30 minutes, up to 4 hours, stirring occasionally; drain.

Chicken Filling: Place chicken thighs in re-sealable plastic bag. In bowl, combine garlic, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, oil, five-spice powder and pepper, reserving 2 tbsp (30 mL). Pour remaining marinade over chicken and turn to coat evenly. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes or up to four hours. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Place chicken on rack in baking pan. Bake in 425˚F (220˚C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through, basting once with reserved marinade. Let stand for a few minutes before slicing.

Sauce: In bowl, combine mayonnaise, chili garlic sauce and lime juice. Cut baguette in half lengthwise and spread each side with mayonnaise. Fill evenly with chicken slices, drained pickled vegetables, coriander leaves and sriracha (optional).


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~

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