My husband and I have a new shared interest: Vietnamese Pho.
Nope, actually, here in California, I’ve learned it’s pronounced “Pha” as the “Fa” in “Far,” not “Pho.” The small accent over the “o” apparently changes the pronunciation.
On the east coast, we called it “pho.” I suppose due to the large Asian population here in California, you can’t go for long saying it the wrong way.
Now, it’s “pha.”
Given how often we find ourselves stopping into a Vietnamese restaurant for a hot bowl of this yumminess, we decided to try our hand at making it ourselves.
Our first attempt involved my taking a trip to a local Asian store, where I found to my surprise that the Asian pho noodles cost roughly $1.70 for a package of 6 servings. That was a deal.
For multiple reasons, I decided to use my essential oils to provide flavor (not to mention therapeutic benefits) to the pho, rather than buying roots, stalks, and spices to flavor it.
The basics to good pho, as I’m learning include a couple of things:
(1) Good broth – while I used the oils in my broth, and boiled the broth for about 20 minutes, I learned afterward from a foodie who is familiar with making vegetable pho, that the best way to do the broth is to cut 2 lemongrass stalks in quarters, and simmer the broth (after bringing to a boil) for what I believe he said was 30 minutes. This reduction of the broth will increase it’s concentration. Once the broth has reduced, add one thumb-sized worth piece of ginger, shredded. (I recommend a ginger grater for this part.)
(2) Lemongrass and ginger – these are key components. When my husband added actual finely chopped ginger to our leftover pho, he proclaimed there was a definite difference. Next time, we obviously need to use lemongrass and ginger.
(3) Steam vegetables separate from the broth – you don’t want to cook the vegetables in the broth because, per my foodie friend, it makes everything taste the same. The thing about steaming the vegetables separately is that when you combine all ingredients for the pho at the time of serving, you still get the individual tastes of the vegetables.
(4) Use Asian pho rice noodles – I got the large size which seemed most authentic as compared to the noodles used by the Vietnamese restaurants. Directions on how to “cook” the noodles are here. I used those directions, but found the noodles weren’t thoroughly cooked, so we had to put the noodles and their soaking water back on the stove until they were done. As with other gluten-free noodles, you have to be careful to avoid overcooking. But in this case, I’d just cook these vietnamese noodles the same as other brown rice noodles, rather than simply pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit for several minutes. That didn’t work.
Based on this, here’s my recipe for pho:
*1 crown of Broccoli (cut into florets)
*Carrots (2, thinly sliced at an angle)
*Mushrooms, sliced (about 1/2 a dozen)
*Baby corns (about 1/2 a dozen)
*Pho rice noodles (also called “Pad Thai” – available at an Asian market)
*2 stalks lemongrass, each quartered (use cooking scissors to cut them)
*1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Lime slices to garnish
*White Bean sprouts to garnish
*Jalapeno (sliced) to garnish
*Pat of butter
Add lemongrass to a quart of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let it reduce for 30 minutes. After that time, add grated ginger upon removing from heat.
While broth is boiling, slice mushrooms and saute in pat of butter over medium heat in saucepan. Midway through cooking, toss in your 1/2 dozen baby corns to heat them with the mushrooms.
While mushrooms are starting to cook, cut up broccoli and carrots and steam in a small amount of water (under a closed lid) on the stove, until vegetables are crisp tender and bright in color. Do not overcook vegetables.
Boil enough water to cover rice noodles. Once water is boiling, add rice noodles and cook approximately 7 minutes or until just tender. Do not overcook or they will become mushy. Once cooked, drain off all cooking water immediately. If you are not consuming the noodles immediately, rinse them with cold water to halt the cooking process. Same with the steamed vegetables. If not consuming immediately, rinse with cold water to halt the cooking.
When broth is ready, put noodles in the bottom of an ample-sized serving bowl. Add all vegetables (steamed and sauteed), and top with garnishes of bean sprouts, jalapenos, and spritz with juice by squeezing lime slices over the top. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy your homemade vegetable pho!