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This is an easy version that starts with canned beef broth. Some of the ingredients may be hard for people in some parts of the world to find--I live in an area with a large Asian population so I've never had any trouble myself. Be careful when using the sriracha or sambal oelek, as they are very hot. Fish sauce, to the uninitiated, smells really awful--but it doesn't taste like it smells. Once you've added it to your soup, you won't smell it nearly so strongly and it adds a pleasant, salty, seafood-y flavor to your food.
- 4 quarts fat free low-sodium beef broth
- 1 large onion, sliced into paper-thin rings
- 6 slices peeled fresh gingerroot (about the size of quarters)
- 1 stalk lemongrass, cleaned, leaves removed (do not substitute lemon zest or juice(the flavor is not at all the same)
- 1 small piece cinnamon stick (I use broken pieces of stick cinnamon, about 1 tsp total)
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
- 1 lb beef sirloin tip, cut into very thin slices (ask the butcher to slice it paper thin(I like to buy beef for sukiyaki at the Oriental market)
- 1⁄2 lb fresh bean sprout, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup fresh Thai basil, rinsed and dried
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried (coriander)
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1⁄2-1 lb flat rice noodles (I prefer noodles about 1/4 inch wide)
- sambal oelek (optional) or sriracha sauce (optional)
- thinly sliced serrano peppers (optional) or jalapeno chile (optional)
- fish sauce (nam pla) (optional)
- hoisin sauce (optional)
- In a 6 quart stockpot, combine broth, onion, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, and peppercorns (tie the seasonings loosely in cheesecloth for easier removal). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare rice noodles and garnishes.
- Arrange bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, chilies, and limes on a large platter.
- To prepare rice noodles, bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil. Add rice noodles and stir to separate. Cook until just barely tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain well. If not quite ready to serve, rinse noodles and drain again.
- To serve, remove seasonings (except onions) from broth; keep broth hot.
- Place ½ cup rice noodles in each of 6 large, deep bowls.
- Arrange thinly sliced beef over noodles, fanning out to increase surface area. Ladle very hot broth over beef and stir to cook.
- Serve immediately. Pass garnish platter, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and sambal oelek or sriracha sauce for people to add as desired.