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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Grilled Noodle Bowls

Paddy and I went to lunch at this great Vietnamese restaurant in Harvard Square not too long ago. We had fresh spring rolls that had small pieces of BBQed pork and they were delicious. We also had two very large bowls of Pho, which I think is one of the most comforting soups there is. It has lots and lots of noodles. I usually order it with chicken. But when I recreated it at home a couple of weeks ago, I grilled a pork tenderloin and used that in the soup instead. It was unreal. The great thing about this soup is that you can add lots of fresh ingredients, and make it really spicy. You can make it with chicken, shrimp, pork, or no meat. If you use chicken, small pieces pulled from a roast chicken work best (good use of leftovers), if you use shrimp pop them right into the soup at the end and let them cook in the broth. If you use pork, this really is worth it...you can use the other half of the tenderloin a couple days later in something else.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
~ 1 - 1.5 lb pork tenderloin
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 qts chicken broth
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup bok choy, sliced into 1/4 pieces (1 medium with greens included)
1/4 onion sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 handful of thin, round chinese egg noodles (you can also use angel hair pasta...if you have to!)
* eye the amount according to how much broth you have and the noodle ratio that you prefer
1 cup bean sprouts
1 large bunch of basil, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chili paste - at least

1. In a small bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients and mix well to dissolve the brown sugar a bit.

2. Place the tenderloin in a large plastic bag an pour in the marinade. Marinate the meat for 15-20 minutes.

3. Grill the tenderloin for 8 minutes, flip it and do the other side for another 8 minutes. When it's finished, take it off the grill and let it sit.

4. Heat the oil on medium or a little under in a large pot. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger and let their flavors infuse into the oil - you don't want them to burn.

5. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

6. Turn the heat down to medium high and add the mushrooms, bok choy, and onion and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to get tender.

7. Add the noodles straight to the soup. Bring the broth back to a simmer so that the noodles cook in the broth.

8. Cut the tenderloin in half (you won't need all of it). It may be very slightly pink in the middle, that's ok, it will finish cooking in the soup. Cut the meat so that you have 1/4 x 3 inch strips.

9. When the noodles are soft, add the meat to the soup and turn the heat down to medium.

10. Just before serving, add the beansprouts and basil (the more basil the better). Serve with chili paste on the side - again, the more the better!

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