Ramen noodles may well be the last ingredient you think of when planning a dinner party menu. After all, cellophane packets of noodle bricks and mystery spices do not exactly scream out “classy” and “memorable meal.” It’s unfortunate, for all it takes to turn this humble ingredient into something spectacular is letting it take center stage at a Ramen Noodle Phở Party.
Phở is a beautiful soup for a savory and interactive dinner on a frosty night. It’s an inexpensive and easy dish to prepare with all sorts of toppings guests can use to customize their own bowl. It’s also chock full of spices that do wonders for staving off autumnal colds and flus.
Phở is a Vietnamese soup that starts with a lusciously spiced beef broth. In Vietnam, each family has a secret recipe for phở that they guard fiercely. The basic recipe consists of dry-roasted spices — cinnamon, fennel, anise seed, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns — simmered slowly with beef, onion, and garlic. Fish sauce, sugar, and salt are added and it’s simmered some more before it’s finally ready.
Then comes the fun part. Traditionally, phở broth is poured over rice noodles, but ramen noodles can easily be substituted. Simply hand out large soup bowls to each guest and place a generous portion of ramen noodles in the bottom of each bowl, top with thinly sliced beef, and fill with broth.
Guests can then top their soup with a variety of fresh and fragrant ingredients such as bean sprouts, Thai basil leaves, mint leaves, thinly sliced scallions, and snow peas. You could also add a sprinkling of roasted peanuts, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or stir in some fiery chili sauce.
It will be a ramen noodle soup to remember.
Phở with Ramen Noodles
- 1 anise seed pod
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 4 cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 8 cups water
- 2-3 cups skirt steak, sliced
- 3-4 beef bones, roasted (roasted at 375 F for 30-40 minutes)
- 2 onions, halved (no need to peel)
- 6-8 garlic cloves, smashed but not peeled
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (more, if needed)
- 1 package ramen noodles
- 2 cups thinly sliced steak (like for stir-fry)
- 1 package bean sprouts
- 1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch fresh Thai basil
- 1 bunch fresh spearmint
- 1 lemon, quartered
Place first six ingredients in saucepan over medium-high heat. Dry roast, stirring to keep from burning, for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.
In large saucepan combine water, stew meat, roasted beef bones, onions, cloves, and spices. Bring to boil then lower heat and simmer for 2-3 hours until broth is strong and rich. Skim off any froth/fat.
Strain broth through fine mesh sieve and return to pot. Stir in fish sauce, sugar, and salt and bring to boil.
While broth is heating, cook ramen noodles and drain well. Divide noodles between 2-4 bowls.Add sliced steak to broth and simmer until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
Remove steak and divide between soup bowls. Pour broth over noodles and steak.Add bean sprouts, basil, spearmint, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice to taste.
Photos are courtesy of the author.