Like a lot of foodies, I love to eat Pho. I will leave you to argue amongst yourself as to how to pronounce it. Fact is, that it depends on where you live as there are different dialects, tones and pronunciations in the Vietnamese language. “Foe”, and “Fuh” are both equally correct, as well as other local pronunciations.
I’ve wanted to try this for a long time, but I was afraid it would be too time consuming. So I finally took the plunge and checked out several recipes online. I combined a few of them and headed to the store. So I’m sure I can get an excellent bowl of Pho at many restaurants close to me for around $8. My bill after getting all the ingredients….$65! Granted that I do have several items leftover to use on other meals, like the live basil plant, the fennel seeds and herbs, no mention the Japanese beer I bought to enjoy with it. I was able to make 3 large bowls with enough broth to freeze for 1 or 2 more like size meals. So I guess the price wasn’t too bad. However, this is not necessarily a quick weekday dinner. The recipe is fairly involved, but if you call yourself a foodnerd, its really pretty easy.
First thing, first. I took some soup bones and par boiled them.
This helps clean them so they don’t cloud the broth. Then I roasted them,
along with ginger and garlic cloves.
Spices are probably the key to Pho. I used cinnamon sticks, anise seeds, coriander,
fennel seeds and some ground cardamon (too cheap to buy pods, as I don’t use them much).
I toasted them until they started to smoke and release their oils.
I wrapped it in some cheesecloth and plopped it in with the rest.
I chose to char the onions on the burner instead of in the
oven, so the onions would stand up a bit more. The char here, and on
the bones, ginger and garlic are another key element for the flavor.
Add 6 quarts of water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 3-5 hours.
Skim any scum and fat that floats to the top.
You want a clear (not transparent) broth, like a consommé.
Here is what it looked like before I put it in the freezer to easily remove all the fat.
I thinly slice some sirloin steak and heated up some Hokkien stir-fry noodles.
To create the bowl, I added the noodles, then the raw steak.
Then I poured the hot broth over, and this is how the steak was cooked.
For the fixins, I chose cilantro, mint, basil, bean sprouts,
onions, red jalapeno and lime.
This is my bowl about halfway done.
This meal was so good! My suggested that
it may be my best yet.
The satisfaction of coming up with a production plan, executing that plan and creating some delicious food from said plan was pretty great. Knowing I have more delicious broth in my freezer, makes me smile. The longer a meal take to make, the more I seem to enjoy it when it turns out correct.
The key is to be patient and follow the key steps in order to create the unami flavor.
Char, roast, toast and spice with care!