Oh yeah, well Pho you! (October Daring Cooks)
Pho, pronounced fuh, is one of my favorites. A traditional Vietnamese noodle soup with all those great condiments that send it over the top in flavor.
Let’s get the fineprint out of the way.
Actually that isn’t the whole truth. I chose to do the beef version from scratch and that recipe is located here.
So to keep things short and sweet I will give only the “cliff notes” here.
Start by parboiling some beef knuckle or marrow bones. Parboiling and then rinsing makes a clearer stock possible by removing most of the impurities.
Just a quick 10 minutes under boil and then rinse and clean out your pot to start the process over. This time add in your toasted spices, star anise, coriander seed, fennel seed, cinnamon, and cardomom all wrapped in a sachet.
The next oh so important step in the broth preparation is charring of the ginger and onions. The charring adds a complexity to the stock that is absolutely crucial to the dish.
So for the stock it is the charred ginger and onion, the toasted spices, some brown sugar, about a 1/4 cup of fish sauce, and the par-boiled marrow bones. Let them come to a slow simmer. I like to only put part of the pot over the heat so that a raft develops on the opposite side. After about 3 hours of slow simmering, I added in a well seared pot roast that had been seasoned simply with salt and pepper.
Not only does this richen the stock, but it also provides and excellent addition to the finished soup. Let the roast finish to tender in the stock for about 90 more minutes. This is what it looks like after almost 5 hours and lots of skimming.
And now after straining through paper towels and de-fatting.
That was the hardest part of the whole process. Everything else is fairly quick and simple. I tasted the broth to check and took the opportunity to add more salt.
I did decide to cook my rice noodles in the stock. I wanted to add more flavor to relatively plain tasting noodles. It worked. Also gave them just a little color. I was afraid that it would cloud the stock but it didn’t. Well at first it did but then it cleared again. Use the time it takes to cook the noodles to ready your condiments.
Here we have the thin sliced pot roast, thin sliced ribeye, basil, mint, cilantro, red onion, bean sprouts, and finely chopped Thai chiles. I ended up chopping up the herbs for serving.
Make a bowl with what you like. I like lots of everything.
Now add in some sambal oelek (chile garlic sauce), hoisin sauce, and as much of the boiling beef broth as you care for. Viola!
Now for the second part of the challenge. Dessert. We were asked to prepare a deep fried sweet wonton. Immediately upon reading the dessert portion of the challenge a sick and twisted idea popped into my head. I have decided to call it the “Dead Elvis”.
Simple as can be. On a wonton wrapper spread a bit of your favorite peanut butter, top with some bananna slices, and a bit of cooked bacon.
Wet the edges with eggwash and then top with another wonton. I used a fork to crimp the edges.
Now gently deep fry in 360F oil. I splashed oil on to the top while frying and then flipped and did the same on the second side.
Elvis was definitely on to something here. I am not much for sweets but this was so good. Crispy, salty, creamy, and sweet. A great mix for an unusual dessert.