Rice soup (Cháo) is the staple of Vietnamese diet. With less than 1/2 cup of rice and a plenty of broth, you can create a pot of soup that feeds a whole family. It’s also well known to Vietnamese for its magical cure to stomachache, sore thoat, fever or whenever you’re not feeling well. For richness, the soup can be served with chicken, beef, or fish. Here’s a version of beef rice soup, with a touch of ginger. This dish can also be served as a light lunch or dinner.
Recipe for Cháo Bò, Vietnamese Beef Rice Soup with Ginger and Onion:
Basic Rice Soup:
1/3 cup of long grain rice
1/3 cup of mung beans (skin off)
2 1/2 quarts of homemade chicken stock
1 small piece of ginger (about 2 inches), sliced
2 scallions, white part only
1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
Beef and its marinade:
1/4 lb beef tenderloin
1 1/2 tbsp peeled and finely shredded fresh ginger
1 tbsp of fish sauce
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Juice from 1/4 lime
1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced or 2 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/2 lime, slice in small pieces
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
In a large sauce pan place 2 1/2 quarts of homemade chicken stock, scallions, ginger, fishsauce, salt and bring it to a boil.
While the chicken stock is heating up, in a clean saucepan, fry the mung beans over low heat until fragrant but not brown. Add fried beans to the chicken stock. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook the mung beans, stirring regularly, for 25 to 30 mins.
While the soup is simmering, using a cutting board, trim away any fat or gristly bits from the beef. Using a sharp cleaver or a chef’s knife, cut the meat into small slices, mound them in a pile and then again cut them into pea sized pieces. Add ginger to the pile. Using a rocking motion, move the blade for one side of the pile to another and mince the beef and ginger together. Chop them until the meat turns into a rough pastelike consistency, but not as fine as typical ground beef. Return it to a bowl, add in fish sauce, salt and pepper, mix it well and set it aside at room temperature.
In the same sauce pan you fried the mung beans, fry rice over low heat until fragrant but not brown. Add rice to the chicken stock, stirring up so rice and mung beans are mixed evenly. Cook for around 25-30 mins, stirring regularly to avoid scorching. Taste and adjust the soup, as necessary.
Add lime juice to the beef, mix it well then add it to the rice soup. Mix it well into the soup and turn off the heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately. Ladle into individual soup bowls. Garnish with the sliced scallions, cilantro, pepper and squeeze in couple drops of lime juice as desired.
Serves 4, immediately.
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