So like I said in mt last post, I picked up some ingredients for the making of Pho, a Vietnamese soup usually made with a broth, rice noodles and your choice of toppings. However, I cheated a little and bought a jar of beef broth paste. You add a few spoonfuls to some boiling water and Viola! You have 'instant' Pho. But I think the best part of Pho is the variety of toppings or add-ins.
The toppings or add-ins will change with every palate just as the toppings and mix-ins for ice cream will change for every person. For Pho, you can add sprouts, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, jalapenos, lime juice, fish sauce, Sriracha, garlic, sugar, etc. Its going to be different for everyone. My brother adds sugar, my sister likes to add oyster sauce, and I like mine bowl of Pho salty with a lot of sprouts.
I made sure to add some thinly sliced beef to the broth as it cooked so as to take away from the possible 'instant' taste or appearance if I hadn't put any meat in it (you can't get beef broth without the beef unless it was an instant recipe, right?). So I let that simmer a while, and let the flavors meld. After a few quick tastes, I added some green onions to the pot and some fish sauce for some extra saltiness. Once that was done, I pulled the noodles out of the pack and placed them in hot water. I wanted to soften them just enough before marrying the broth and the noodles so that they didn't overcook—I failed.
The noodles ended up being too hard and need to be boiled in the broth just a bit longer. We all ended up having to wait an extra 10 or 15 minutes before it could be eaten. But in the end, it was well worthwhile. The broth was almost on spot, I'm sure if I had the time and the meat to cook down in a broth for a few hours it would have been awesome. The noodles also set me back a bit since I have to cook them in the broth. Next time I will boil them in a separate pot and then take them out before they're overdone and then just spoon the broth over the noodles.
It turned out pretty well for a jar version versus the traditional hours over the stove boiling meat, bones and spices to achieve the right taste. I had a few other options other than the jar, they had little packets and boxes of what I would assume were similar to beef bouillon squares. I went for the jar since there were oils and seasonings in there that I thought would have tasted better than the dehydrated version. I want to try and make some Pad Thai next time. I think that would be great.
When I was living on Martha's Vineyard, I had such a strong craving for it that I think I ate it three times in one week once. The last time I had it there was a street fair in Oak Bluffs on Circuit Avenue, and this Thai restaurant had a set up outside. The chef just through in some chicken in a wok, some coconut milk, and let that cook, added sprouts, peanuts, and noodles. I love sprouts, chicken and coconut milk. It looked so easy. I know there is more to it but I think I can finagle a recipe or at least grab one off the Internet. I'll let you know how it goes.