Someone told me last week that the cheapest place to buy rice flour (for my gluten-free son) was the Asian market. Since I happened to drive by there on Saturday (picking my daughter up from a sleepover), I went in to see what they had. I was amazed at how much of what they had was full of chemical additives, but still, I suppose I was inspired.
So last night, at “what’s for dinner” time, I came up with this:
- Stock of some sort (mine was lamb this time – from some bones I had boiled – oh, and asparagus – I had boiled the cut off ends of my spears, too)
- ground meat (I used turkey)
- noodles (I used rice noodles – kids love ’em, but I think they prefer bean noodles. Those had disappeared from the supermarket, but I did get some from the Asian store & will use them next time)
- sliced onions
- veggies (I actually left the asparagus ends in, and sliced some mushrooms in there too)
- crunchy veggie for topping (I used thinly sliced cabbage my mung beans haven’t sprouted yet)
- Spices (I used ground garlic, coriander, and ginger)
- Salt & Pepper
While the stock was heating, I stirred the spices & seasonings into the meat. Then I used my baby scoop to make meatballs. I looked around for an egg to help hold it together, but we were out, so I threw in a little of that boxed baby rice to make it a little stiffer. Neither are crucial, but either could be an option. I put the sliced onions and then the meatballs in the stock (which already had the asparagus, some of which wound up being edible, some not so much). I added the dry noodles & pushed them down into the liquid. They said to soak for 10 minutes, so I sliced some brown mushrooms and tossed them in near the end of that time. I had picked up some enoki mushrooms at the Asian store, but they looked too delicate to toss into soup, so I threw them on top to let them warm up, but not disintegrate. A couple of minutes later, I served it with some sort-of julienned cabbage on top. Left crunchy, it provided a nice contrast to the rest of the soup, but pushed down into the broth, it could be softened as well.
Not fancy, not full of the 50 scary ingredients that I usually see in oriental recipes (I have always wanted to make Hot & Sour soup – until I looked at the recipe – ugh!), and probably no where near what a real Vietnamese Pho contains. But it managed to give the “feel” of a Pho, wasn’t too intimidating for the kids, and – importantly – was cheap, quick, and easy.
What do you think? Have you done anything similar?
And yes, in case you were wondering…the rice flour was cheap. I bought one pound bag for $0.99 and another for $1.39 just to compare. Makes Bob’s Red Mill seem like gold.