Here is a quick breakdown of what you'll need to get started...
Herb & Spice - Ingredient Guide:
· Schezuan Peppercorns – Spicy. Known for their numbing effect. This peppercorn is unique because of it’s lemony and spicy flavor profile.
· Vietnamese Basil – Native to SE Asia, this basil has a spicy, licorice flavor. Stems are a bit more fibrous than Italian basil.
· Lemongrass – Tropical island grass, SE Asia. Lemony aroma and taste. Very woody and fibrous, chop finely or remove before eating.
· Fish sauce – staple in SE Asian cooking. Fermented fish and salt, agent 8 months or more – provides salty, briny, fermented flavors, depth. Umami.
· Black Vinegar – A dark colored, complex flavored vinegar made of glutinous rice and sorghum or wheat. If black vinegar is unavailable, balsamic vinegar is an ok replacement – but it is sweeter than black vinegar.
· Chili Garlic Sambal – Sambal refers to sauce. Fermented chili and garlic condiment with salt and vinegar. Resembling sriracha in flavor, but has no added sugar like sriracha.
· Saifun or Maifun Noodles (Bean Stick Noodles/Rice Stick Noodles) – very thin noodles made from the respective starches and water. Quick cooking. Glutinous.
About the dishes:
· Make Ahead Broth – a simple to make broth and can be made ahead and refrigerated for 3 days, or frozen. When straining, make sure your cheesecloth is damp so it won’t soak up any of the stock.
· Pho with Lemongrass Chile Shrimp – An alternative cooking method for the shrimp would be to skewer them after they have marinated and grill them, and placing a shrimp skewer with each bowl of soup. Using the dried shitake mushrooms and the essence from it adds another dimension of earthy undertones to the soup.
· Bun Chay – Technically not a soup, but a rice noodle bowl. This dish is often found in a vegetarian form. To make completely vegetarian, replace 4# of chicken in the made ahead stock with 4# of assorted mixed vegetables. Frying the tofu for the top of this dish adds an extra flavor layer, while the nuoc cham really brings home all of the flavors of hot, sour, salty, sweet, and umami! Make sure to reserve the pickling liquid to dunk the rice stick for an extra little bit of flavor.