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Daring Cooks - Vietnamese Beef Pho & Spiced Sweet Potato Dumplings

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. There are 2 challenges this month, the first being making Vietnamese pho. I was really excited as this has been on my to-cook list for quite some time. There's a quick version which uses store-bought stock but I felt rather daring this month, so I made the longer version which involved making the base broth from scratch. Making the broth took quite some time but it's well worth it. The stock was so DELICIOUS! So meaty, rich and flavourful. But it lacks a little something, can't really pin-point what exactly, it's just a bit different from the usual pho I had. Nonetheless, it's still raelly tasty. Would probably add more spices the next time! The second challenge was to make dessert wontons. I chose spiced sweet potatoes for the filling to suit the season. This is a rather long post, so here goes!

Challenge #1: Vietnamese Pho

Recipe source:
Jaden of Steamy Kitchen

Bone hunting

Took me 1 whole morning to locate the bones. Do you know that the local supermarkets i.e Sainsburys, Waitrose, Tesco don't sell bones? I had to go to a proper butcher to get the bones. To be honest, I NEVER go to a proper butcher for meat so I had no idea where to find one. Many thanks to the friendly locals, we managed to locate one about 20 mins away. here's 2kg of beef bones - FREE! yay!

Vietnamese beef pho 01

Bone after blanching to get rid of scum. Look at that gorgeous marrow...yum yum...

Vietnamese beef pho 03

The next step was to toast the onion, ginger and spices. I halved all the ingredients except for bones as the original recipe was meant to serve 8.

Vietnamese beef pho 04

Spices for broth. Middle: star anise. From top clockwise: cinnamon stalk, coriander seeds, cloves, cardamon pod, fennel seeds.

Vietnamese beef pho 02

Place everything in a pot with 3L of water, and start boiling. I used a pressure cooker and cooked it under pressure for 1 1/2 hrs.

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After 1 1/2 hrs of cooking under pressure. I tried tasting at this point and I tasted nothing but fats. I figured there's probably a layer of fats on top so I left it to cool until the layer of fats solidified.

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Look at all that fats!

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Vietnamese beef pho 08

I used a muslin cloth to get rid of that extra scum.

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umm...better...I stored it in the fridge for the next day.

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It became jelly!

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Before serving, gently warm up stock. Pass it through a mesh again and heat up stock. Add rock sugar, salt and fish sauce at this point to taste. Garnish with coriander, basil, mint, bean sprouts, red chili and lime.

Vietnamese beef pho 12

Not to forget the thinly sliced beef. I used sirloin. The butcher didn't slice them thin enough so I dipped each slice in boiling broth for 5 seconds before plating. As for the noodles, I used flat rice noodles instead as I couldn't find pho noodles. For the beef dip, I mixed together 1 tbs of sriracha and 1 tbs of kecap manis - surprisingly good.

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So here's my final dish, enjoy!

Vietnamese beef pho 14

Challenge #2: Spiced Sweet Potato Dumplings

sweet potato dumplings 08

  • 300g sweet potato - peeled and sliced into 1 1/2-inch thick
  • Salted butter
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 tbs agave nectar
  • Chocolate chips
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Wonton wrappers (I used gyoza wrappers)


  • Preheat oven to 190°C.
  • Rub butter on both sides of sliced sweet potatoes and place them on a line baking tray.
  • Roast for about 25 mins or until tender.
sweet potato dumplings 01
  • Place roasted sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl and mash them.
  • Mix in cinnamon powder, nutmeg and soy milk. Add more soy milk if mixture is too dry.
  • Add agave nectar to taste.
To assemble:

  • On a dry surface, place 1 gyoza wrapper down with a point toward you, like a diamond.
  • Place about 1 tbs of sweet potato filling onto the gyoza wrapper. You can sprinkle some chocolate chips. I actually prefer the ones with chocolate chips - I'm a chocolate addict =P
sweet potato dumplings 04
  • Brush a very thin layer of water on the edges of the wrapper.
  • Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
sweet potato dumplings 02
  • Fold the bottom 2 edges of the triangle towards the middle so the 2 ends meet.
sweet potato dumplings 03
  • Press to adhere.
  • Repeat with the remaining wrappers.
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  • Deep fry until golden brown.
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  • Enjoy!
sweet potato dumplings 10

This is what happens if you don't seal the ends properly.
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Crunchy peanut butter and nutella anyone?

sweet potato dumplings 06

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