I got back from my trip to Southeast Asia several weeks ago. Vietnam is a beautiful country. I loved everything about it--except for the humidity. It's an incredibly lush and intoxicating country full of green rice paddies and friendly people.
I think my favourite place in Vietnam was Hanoi in the north. The traffic is crazy there. Hundreds--if not thousands--of people on scooters, rushing here and there. Crossing the street is quite an of bravery.
Here are a couple of pictures of the market in the old quarter of Hanoi and street food.
As expected, the pho (traditional Vietnamese beef soup) was amazing in Hanoi.
There are many variations on the recipe, but the trick to making excellent pho is to start off with a good stock. Here's a simple recipe I use at home:
Pho, Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
For the stock:
1 large onion, chopped
1-inch ginger root
1 pound beef bones or oxtails
6 star anise
Broil the onion and ginger root until caramelized. Smash the ginger root. Place the beef bones in a large pot, add enough water to cover the bones. Add ginger, onion and star anise. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 30-40 minutes. Skim off foam that rises to the surface while simmering.
For the soup:
1 package rice noodles
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 fresh green or red chili pepper, thinly sliced
1 pound lean tender beef, thinly sliced
Take the bones out of the finished stock. Strain out the vegetables and seasonings. Bring the strained stock back up to a boil. Add the rice noodles. Cook until al dente. Add the fish sauce, chili, and thinly sliced beef. Adjust seasoning (add salt and pepper to taste) and serve with garnishes.
Add as many fresh garnishes as you want! Include fresh bean sprouts, thinly sliced green onions, fresh sprigs of basil, mint, or cilantro.