After years reading/listening about how wonderful ‘Pho’ is I decided to make some.
As there are no “great” pho restros. around here I’m told.
I Googled up “The Worlds Best Pho Recipe” and got dozens of web sites. They all gave essentially the exact recipe altho some left out a couple of spices like cardamon.
I cheated by using BTB beef stock. Four T to six litres of water.
That ratio gave me a tasty broth not too intense not too wimpy. At this point I added a splash of good fish sauce and a t of cane sugar.
Another cheat: Instead of using rice noodles I made a big pot of sticky rice. The kind I use for making Lo Mai Gai. I oiled a small bowl and pushed the sticky rice into the bowl then carefully slide the rice clump from the bowl. Into the big soup bowl upside down leaving an eskimo igloo shape. It’s rice right? I did this for four bowls.
One small charred sweet onion/thick ginger slices. Into a cheesecloth bag then into the simmering stock. After thirty minutes I added small cheesecloth bag containing a t each of the ground cinnamon/fennel seeds/cardamom/three whole star anise.
After simmering for another thirty minutes I removed and discarded both cheesecloth bags.
I then simmered the broth for an hour.
The star ingredient was the King mushroom half inch thick slices/disks. They looked exactly like small scallops! I sautéed the slices in a little clarified butter till they had a nice golden colour. Just as you would a scallop. Honest to God the texture AND the flavour are almost identical to delicious fresh scallops! Umami?
I put but a piece of raw chuck steak in the freezer to almost freeze then sliced it against the grain into wafer thin slices.
Fine chopped some Italian parsley.
Just before serving I ‘nuked’ each bowl with their sticky rice dome. (loose piece of plastic wrap on top to keep the moisture in).
Brought the pho broth just to the boil. Arranged alongside the rice a third sautéed King mushrooms. A third the slices of raw beef. A third the chopped parsley. Poured the very hot broth into each bowl just to the top of the rice dome. Garnished with a sprig of whole Italian flat leaf parsley.
I should mention I did not add any salt to the broth.
On the table were Thai hot sauce/lime wedges. As a side dish I served homemade Thai deep fried spring rolls with homemade apricot dipping sauce.
Chinese soup spoons and chopsticks.
Cold Tsingtao beer of course.
We all thought it was delicious. If I even came close to the ‘real thing’ I now understand the complexity of flavours and smells possible.
I’m sure some of you have made and eaten excellent Pho. I'd be very interested in any advice you can share. I’ll definitely make Pho again soon. It will be on my ‘master list’ of foods I must keep making.
Please give me your feed-back.