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This will clear the sinuses and it’s delicious too. Nice and easy, tasty, and very handy for midweek.

Beef Phở – serves 2

  • 750ml strong beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced
  • 2 red chillies, sliced
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • a bunch of scallions, sliced
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 100g flat rice noodles
  • 200g fillet steak, thinly sliced
  • a handful of beansprouts
  • coriander leaves
  • lime wedges
  • hoisin sauce
  • sriracha sauce

Bring the stock, garlic, ginger, half the chilli, star anise, cinnamon and half the scallions to the boil for 15 minutes. Strain and discard the solids, then bring back to the boil. Season with the fish sauce.

Meanwhile, pour a kettle of boiling water over the noodles and leave to soak for 10 minutes, then drain and rinse.

Divide the noodles between warm bowls. Add the steak and beansprouts to the simmering stock and remove from the heat, they will cook in the residual heat. Spoon over the noodles and add the rest of the scallions, chilli, some coriander and lime wedges. Serve with hoisin and sriracha.

(Original recipe by Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, Christmas 2015.)

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We made this on the first of January. We don’t do veggie January or veganuary but after all the rich food of November and December we were looking forward to some lighter dishes and this felt just right; both elegant and light, but full of lovely layers of flavour and textures.

Wine Suggestion: serve this with an umami rich red wine, but one that isn’t too fruity and rich either. If you can plump for an older, good Barolo lucky you, but tonight we were still lucky enough to have Domaine Jamet’s Côtes du Rhône: 100% northern Rhône Syrah with depth and personality, plums and brambles, peppery spice and savouriness.

Shiitake pho with crispy leeks – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for shallow-frying
  • 4 banana shallots, thinly sliced (just use an onion if you don’t have shallots)
  • 5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 leeks, 1 sliced the other shredded into long strips
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, very finely chopped
  • 375g fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 6 scallions, very finely sliced
  • 2 litres vegetable stock (vegan if you wish)
  • 200g flat rice noodles
  • a large handful of fresh coriander leaves, shredded
  • 1 lime, quartered

You need a very big pot for this, at least 3 litres.

Heat the oil in the large pot and fry the shallots for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick, then fry for another 5 minutes or until starting to colour and stick.

Add the finely sliced leek, chillies and mushrooms, and stir-fry for 8-10 minutes, until softened, then add the soy sauce, half the scallions and the stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down very low and leave to simmer. Season to taste with salt.

Meanwhile, fry the shredded leek. Pour enough oil into a frying pan to come up to 1cm up the sides, then heat over a medium flame until very hot. Fry the shredded leek in batches, until crispy and golden, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the pack and drain.

To serve, divide the noodles between 4 large bowls, then ladle the broth on top. Scatter with the coriander, the crispy leeks, scallions and a squeeze of lime.

(Original recipe from East by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2019.)

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