Ice Dams and Cold Winds = Home Made Pho with Culantro

It’s that time of year when many people head south from Minnesota to escape the weather.  Another way to enjoy winter, besides all the winter sports that people enjoy here, is to eat some homemade soup or Pho.  Bill came up with a recipe from the Washington Post Food Section for Pho from a chef in the Washington D.C. area who is the star of the moment, Nick Sharpe, chef at Ba Bay restaurant on Capitol Hill. (Wait ‘til you see this recipe list!)  This soup takes time and planning. Bill went to the local butcher in Linden Hills, Clancy’s Meats and Fish and requested pork loin and beef to be frozen and cut into papery thin slices. (I regret I did not have my camera to document some of the process.)  There was a large pot with beef brisket bubbling away that looked like it had cooked for hours, when I arrived in the kitchen. This formed the soup base. Bowls were set up with culantro leaves, four pieces of thawed shaved meat artfully placed in each and white noodles. Then the soup was ladled over this array.  In this way, the heat of the broth cooked the thin slices of meat.  Second helpings had to be heated (in the microwave). On the table, in small bowls were all the extras to add into the soup – scallions, red onions, peppers, bean sprouts and cilantro. There was ginger, star anise, cinnamon, black cardamom pods and sugar in the broth for flavoring. Bill made a trek to the Asian grocery stores to obtain the culantro* leaves and spices.  Feeling hemmed in by winter? This is a delicious Pho!


Here’s the recipe:

Ba Bay Pho Bo The Washington Post, January 19, 2011

From Nick Sharpe, chef at Ba Bay on Capitol Hill.

Tested by Nicole Schofer and Bonnie S. Benwick for The Washington Post.

E-mail the Food Section with recipe questions.

Cuisine: Vietnamese

Course: Soup

Features: Make-Ahead Recipes


“If you’ve made a pho broth before, you might find this one is saltier and somewhat fattier. That is intentional, says Ba Bay chef Nick Sharpe. Those elements help flavor the noodles and other garnishes in the resulting bowl of soup, which at the restaurant is generously portioned (about 3 cups per serving).

Do not skip the step of scrubbing the bones; it helps eliminate impurities that make the broth cloudy. Culantro and rice paddy herb have distinctive flavors and can be found at Asian markets. There are no exact substitutes for either.

MAKE AHEAD: The broth can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. If you wish to skim off/discard congealed fat, try to leave at least 1/4 inch of it. Reheat the broth gently over medium heat so that it is gurgling intermittently and you can see a sheen of fat on the surface. The broth can be frozen for a few months, but it loses some of its spice notes. Reheat with a sachet of fresh ginger and shallot.”

Makes about 20 cups (6 to 7 servings)


For the broth

8 pounds beef bones, scrubbed well (see headnote)

1 pound peeled fresh ginger root, cut into chunks

10 peeled shallots

8 quarts water

1/4 cup kosher salt, or to taste

1/4 cup rock sugar crystals

14 whole star anise

Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks

2 whole black cardamom pods

For garnish

14 to 16 ounces fresh bean sprouts

1 medium white or red onion, or a combination of white onion, red onion and shallot, cut into very thin slices

2 medium jalapeno peppers, stemmed but not seeded, cut crosswise into very thin slices (about 4 slices per serving)

60 to 70 culantro leaves, torn in half (10 per serving; see headnote)

60 to 70 rice paddy herb leaves (10 per serving; see headnote)

Leaves from 1/2 to 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (6 or 7 tablespoons)

4 or 5 scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into thin slices (3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons)

12 to 14 ounces rice noodles (2 ounces per serving; cooked in boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds and strained)

6 to 7 ounces fresh tripe, cut into very thin slices (1 ounce per serving)

24 to 28 ounces fresh eye of round or top sirloin, trimmed of fat and cut into very thin slices (4 ounces per serving

* “Culantro (Eryngium foetidum L., Apiaceae) is a biennial herb indigenous to continental Tropical America and the West Indies. Although widely used in dishes throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Far East, culantro is relatively unknown in the United States and many other parts of the world and is often mistaken and misnamed for its close relative cilantro or coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.). Some of its common names descriptive of the plant include: spiny or serrated coriander, shado beni and bhandhania (Trinidad and Tobago), chadron benee (Dominica), coulante (Haiti), recao (Puerto Rico), and fit weed (Guyana).” Retrieved from January 24, 2011.



About kunstkitchen

Visual artist and writer hunting words, languages, visions, and insight in my kitchen - connecting Art (Kunst) and culture and slow food cooking. Credits: Do not own a microwave oven and never have. Do not own a food processor. Chopped veggies in a Zen monastery for a weekend. (Seriously) Classically trained artist. Paint and draw with traditional materials. Live in the Northland where it's six months of winter. Appreciate the little things in life. Sharing food and art experiences and the lessons that my talented and generous friends have given me.
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