Lion Cub's Head Pho

January 26, 2009 9:35:42 AM PST
Recipe courtesy of Jackie Shen, executive chef at Chicago's Red Light Makes 8 main dish servings

For the meat balls:
I pound ground pork with fat (ground pork butt)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 scallion stalk, trimmed to 6 inches, white and green parts, minced
½ teaspoon sesame seed oil
1½ teaspoons corn starch
1½ teaspoons flour
1 whole egg

For the soup:
3 quarts basic chicken broth, or organic chicken broth
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 scallions, trimmed to 6 inches long, white and green parts, split lengthwise but not cut through
1 pound straight cut medium rice noodles
Salt, to taste, about 4 teaspoons

For the garnishes:
1 pound fresh bean sprouts
1 bunch cilantro, washed, patted dry, stems trimmed
4 limes, quartered
2 Thai red chili peppers, or 2 red Serrano peppers, sliced paper thin horizontally

To make the meat balls:
Put all ingredients except corn starch, flour, and egg into a big bowl. Mix well by hand or with a rubber or silicone spatula. Add cornstarch and mix well. Add flour and mix well. Scramble egg with a fork in a separate small bowl and add. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Portion meatball mixture into 16 equal portions on a large plate or cutting board. Roll into balls between the palms of your hands. Using a thin spatula, place meatballs gently on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Reserve.

To make the soup:
In a 6-quart pot over medium high heat, add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add ginger, garlic and scallions. Return to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook for 4 minutes. Add meatballs and cook 4 more minutes. Add salt to taste.

To serve: ladle soup with noodles and meatballs in to 8 large bowls. Pass plates of bean sprouts, cilantro, limes and chili peppers so everybody can garnish their own soup.