Post № 9
Party in my Mouth Pho!
You know what day it is!?!?! Yep, you guessed it…Motivation Monday!
Monday, a day of which can seem incredibly manic (I’m talking about the Monday Blues, not the fun euphoric type of mania)… well, Mondays are always quite the opposite for me. (Its all about perspective people… You know, glass half full.. ).
Today I am breaking down barriers and slaying a beast; I will go boldly where I have gone only once before but had failed to succeed…. that is until today… Today, I attempted (AND SUCCEEDED!!! Yay!!~!) to make Pho…
Anyone who knows anything about Pho, it’s all about the broth baby! <Ahem… clears throat..> What I meant to say is… it’s all about a 2 day love affair consisting of an inordinate amount of time, labor, and bones because bones are where the flavors are; Pho broth is truly a labor of love.
I “tried” (tried being the operative word here), to make it once before nearly a decade ago… It was, to say the least, a complete and utter disaster. I will admit, I cried a little after a full 8 hours of laboring in the kitchen only to realize what an utter mess I’d made; incredibly disheartened and my ego severely bruised. Because I am particularly proud of my cooking abilities and put a lot of emphasis on cooking not just well, but exceptionally well; until today, that was the one and only time I had ever attempted Pho.
- 2 tbsp beef bouillon or base
- 1 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 piece ginger – sliced into thin tiles
- 1/2 yellow onion, large dice
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- pinch of Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1/2 pound thin rice stick noodles, rinsed
- 1/2 pound beef strip loin or fillet, shaved thin
- 1 cup Vietnamese basil leaves
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 5 jalapeno or serrano chiles, sliced thin
- 4 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced paper thin
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Hoisin sauce, for the table
- Chili sauce, such as Sriracha, for the table
- 1 cinnamon stick
It’s been a few weeks since I had eaten a really good bowl of Pho. Most of my Pho adventures consist of scoping out every Pho restaurant in the area and figuring out the best ones so that I can make it a weekly ritual. I miss Pho, to say the least… And while lockdown seems like an eon, I thought, “Why not try again? I have a nice bottle of wine to drown my sorrows if this turns into another flop. ” Perhaps complete and total optimism has a hold on me… IDK… something has a complete hold on me.. #incredibleremarkablebrilliant I found another recipe which inspires the most novice of cooks to try this at home, turning 2 days into 2 mere hours… Sounds easy enough… so why not? Here I go again with my undeniable happy go lucky optimism…
And my optimism more than paid off!!! OMG! Party in my mouth! This Pho was so incredibly delicious! It was more flavorful (without being too overpowering, I’ll elaborate in Lessons Learned) than many Pho restaurants I’ve tried, it was so incredibly easy to make and I know, unequivocally, the ingredients were fresh, great quality, contained absolutely no msg (which is one of the ways my migraines are induced) and clean – sometimes I do worry about how clean my food is prepared thanks to my acute “germaphobia”.. I want to say I spent a good hour and a half total on the whole affair. Wha?!?!? Yah….. A-MAZ-ING (and I only reserve that sort of amazing for incredibly remarkable things)…After a whole decade, I can now confidently say, without a shadow of a doubt, I can unequivocally make authentic delicious and savory pho at home! Yay!!~! Whose hungry?
I need to ensure I have the absolute correct noodles. I ended up getting cellophane noodles, or glass noodles. Not the same as the rice noodles, but OMG! Safeway was severely understocked today and well, Pho was happening with or without rice noodles. On the positive though, for anyone interested, glass noodles are gluten free also.
If you have the opportunity to use butchers twine and a cheesecloth, DO IT! I couldn’t find any today, BUT I did end up crafting a makeshift spice “holder” out of a tea bag (empty the tea out of the bag, ALL of it… Then place your cinnamon stick, star anise and whole cloves in and tie with tea bag string.) I was so mortified to discover it bursted open after 10 minutes in the boiling broth! Thats a big problem as the spices will break down and become too over powering if integrated directly into the soup. That was a hard lesson I learned the first go around. After using a colander to drain the broth and rinse out my onions and ginger of any spices that attached itself to them, it was all good because the spices were discarded after only 10 mere mins into boiling. Luckily, my sense of smell is spot on. I KNEW it smelled perfect after 10 minutes. If I hadn’t fished those little spices out, it may have compromised the whole operation! Call it clairvoyance, I am incredibly attuned to my meals and the entire cooking process, I just KNEW it was time to check on my broth. So the lesson learned? USE CHEESECLOTH FOR SPICES. The broth by the way, was perfection!!~!
Place your meat in the freezer 30 mins before you are ready to assemble to get it nice and stiff. Its so much easier to slice thinly when they are slightly frozen. I had more sirloin that I hadn’t used up from my Seared Scallops Grenobloise and Seared Sirloin Steaks so that was the protein I used. It was absolutely delicious! No additional seasoning needed!
Of course I prepped all my veggies while my broth was boiling. It makes assembly easy breezy!
If you don’t have fish sauce like me (thanks Safeway… not!) you can always substitute soy sauce and fresh lime juice… Tasted amazing!
Safeway did not have regular bean sprouts either , but I did end up using crunchy clover which wasn’t too bad. Don’t use and I repeat, don’t even think about using bold broccoli bean sprouts… I nearly bought them, but the smell was incredibly bold (hence the name); would have overpowered my precious pho.
may also j’adore…