Don’t you hate it when you’re sitting at your computer and you get struck by a craving for a specific food that would require elaborate cooking or a dash to the car in the pouring rain to the your favorite restaurant? Well, that’s typically what happens when I crave pho (pronounced “fuh”), a popular Vietnamese noodle soup featuring fragrant beef broth – for pho tai – filled with beef tendon, basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, lime, hoisin, and jalapeno. Josh and I first tried it in Pueblo, CO, but it’s so popular here in Seattle that pho restaurants dot the city in almost the same density as coffee houses. So, with so many pho houses around, why would I consider a pho craving a mission impossible? Because pho costs $5.75 or more per bowl, and there isn’t one nearby.
Mission: Impossible the movie also premiered this weekend, and it was played on IMAX five days before that. My friend had a chance to see it (about which I was very jealous!). So, since I am in the mood to embark on an impossible mission, and since I’m so cheap, I figured making pho would be a good challenge.
So, first I decided to do it the real way. There are probably as many recipes to make pho as there are restaurants that serve it. I went to one of my favorite food blogs, Steamy Kitchen, which is written by Jaden Hair. She provides a beautiful recipe that looks so easy. You can read it here. Okay, roll theme music.
I trucked down to Uwajimaya, our local Asian food market. It has everything you need for pho ingredients, including a little spice satchel that included all the spices you need to make it. I also found the beef bones and thinly sliced beef I needed. I lugged it all home and tossed it into my trusty, old slow cooker. I followed the recipe, mostly, and the next day, I had pho. It wasn’t as salty as most restaurant versions, and since I’d skimped on beef bones – hey, they’re not as cheap as I thought they’d be – it wasn’t packed with flavor the way I’d hoped. Also, when I brule-ed my onion and ginger, I mostly burned the bottom of my cast iron pan and didn’t really find that the flavor was especially delicious. As an aside, one of my coworkers uses a blow torch to brulee his onion and ginger, which has both the sexy appeal of blow torches and totally avoids the burnt pot. According to Gisslen’s Professional Cooking, the brule-ing makes the broth more flavorful and more colorful. Okay, so maybe I’ll give it another go.
Cue mystery look from super spy Cruise.
Now for instant pho. I bought a bowl of instant pho once. Ugh. Salt and fake fish sauce. It took a lot of ice cream to wash that away.
Okay, back to the Internet to search for recipes that are more…my pay grade. You should be hearing the exciting, explosive music and imagining Cruise rolling away from rocketing cars flaming in the background. I opened my email, and I found the most recent Serious Eats update, and Lo! A faux pho recipe nestled among the article covering ways to enjoy Ramen noodles. You can find that recipe here.
Essentially, the recipe calls for using half of the seasoning packet and then adding fish sauce and sugar. Tonight, for my solo dinner, I did just that. Ta-Dah! Pho! Well, instant pho!
My ramen noodles were a little weird with the pho broth, but it was flavorful and warm on this cold rainy night. So, conclusion: go out for Pho or take the time to follow Jaden’s recipe to the T. In desperation, you can do the faux pho recipe from Serious Eats. Cue credits.
Oh, and go watch Mission Impossible on the IMAX or in your favorite theater. I’m hoping that I’ll get to win tickets to watch the game, so I’ll be entering this post into a drawing for free tickets. (Shameless plug, ey?) You could also see what IMAX will be bringing to your neighborhood by liking their Facebook page. If you’ve already seen it, I’d like to hear your thoughts. I haven’t gotten a chance yet; I’ve been waiting to see if I can score these tickets, which were made available to bloggers through IMAX through MyBlogSpark.