Monday, June 14, 2010
A few months ago I was introduced to the wonderful world of Pho. I know, Pho is so 1996 where have you been? The problem I inherently had with pho is my disdain for licorice, black licorice, anise, fennel ect. Although I had read countless articles immortalizing the amazing flavor and complexity of the master stock and the playful manner in which the diner gets to add so many condiments and ingredients at the table thus making each bowl of pho your very own, I still feared the overpowering anise flavor similar to the Good & Plenty candies I hated getting at Halloween. No thank you.
It was the night before leaving on a ski trip to Salt Lake, I wasn't terribly hungry, I had minimal food and zero ambition after packing to make anything at home, so i decided tonight was the night that I would head over to Than Than 2 and try the pho I had heard about from so many local bloggers and foodies. Quelling my hunger for once, was playing second fiddle to my curious pallette. I sat, I ate, I giggled in sheer delight. The amazing aroma, the unique flavors, the condiments.... I ate the ENTIRE bowl. Then, I dreamed about it, I longed for this pho from Salt Lake, upon my return I almost immediately went back to Than Than and indulged in a bowl of hot steamy Pho. After about my 4th visit, I began wondering, as I often do whilst eating out, how do I make this at home? Now pho isn't exactly an expensive night out, it is actually really cheap, and surprisingly hearty, but still, I wanted to see if I could even make it, I didn't know where to begin.
After a few hours of researching recipes on the internet, I decided I could probably pull this off. I ended up finding some great short ribs at Pat's Meat Market, I decided I would make some five spiced short ribs and then use the braising liquid as a base for my pho. At least this way if the broth was bunk, I would still have some nice short ribs for dinner, (and they were very good wrapped in homemade scallion pancakes, sorry no pics).
I completed the pho stock and was quite happy with the result, rich beefy broth, light notes of charred onion and ginger, and just enough familiar anise and cinnamon to round out the flavor. I ended up freezing the broth for a later use, and that use ended up being tonight!
As you can see by the pics I took the traditional route for condiments, except for the thai basil, We have tons of basil in our mini herb garden so I decided to use it. I went to Mitpheap market, and got some mung beans, cilantro, rice noodles and scallions. The ladies at Mitheap knew what I had up my sleeve and I think they both gave me a mental high five when they rang me up. $4.50 well spent. I love Mitpheap btw, super nice and always helpful. They once tried to talk me out of the Durian fruit, I almost wish they had.
I have to say, this Pho was excellent, granted I have only had the chance to try Than Than's pho, I think I was able to create/recreate this amazing dish.