Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pho realz, yo

Sorry about the title.  I had to.

Pho is a DELICIOUS Vietnamese soup.  A few years ago, I was first introduced to this lovely treat in Boston while out with college friends.  We had marched in a parade and were frozen to the core, and one of our crew recommended a local eatery.  I had no idea what pho was or if I even liked Vietnamese cuisine, but I knew that soup=warmth for your belly, so I was game.

I fell in love that day.

Pho has a beautiful flavor profile-- the broth includes star anise, which is one of my favorite spices.  The soup contains a HUGE amount of rice vermicelli, but you mix in your own quantities of basil, cilantro, spicy peppers, bean sprouts and hot sauce at the table.  It makes for a meal that is communal yet individualized, and I was hooked from first bite.  Plus, you can often get some Vietnamese coffee, and that's worthy of a whole 'nuther post on another day.

Fast forward to the last two years, when I taught all week and recovered all weekend. On many blustery Sundays in the fall/winter, Tom and I would take refuge in one of the local pho houses, relishing the exotic aroma of the broth and the minty, crisp bite of basil and mixing in as much sambal as we could handle.

Pho has a special place in my heart.

And now, it has a special place in my diet!

Tom and I had experimented a little with kelp noodles, and we both liked them.  I read that if you boil them for 45 minutes, they soften up enough to be "real" noodles.  I decided to be brave and try to make pho-- so, off to H Mart!  As a lazy pants, I looked for a spice satchel to add to broth but found none.  Instead, I found a broth packet.  Msg, blah blah, but I was willing to try it.  And friends, it was perfect.  I also picked up some herbs, jalapeno and the biggest pack of sea tangle noodles available.  This took about 5 minutes to put together (not counting the boiling time).  Great for a tired day's meal (and about 3 more meals).

giant pack o' kelp noodles
1 pack pho broth
water to amply cover kelp noodles
cilantro, basil, jalapeno, bean sprouts, sauce
thinly sliced beef.

1) Boil the noodles.  Boil them some more.  We boiled 30, added spice packet, boiled 15 more.
2) Put thinly sliced beef in bowl (the broth will cook it; if you are squeamish, cook beef in pot before serving)
3) Pour broth over beef, scoop in noodles to taste.
4) Personalize your bowl with cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, spicy peppers and hot sauce.

The genius?  The carb count is pretty dang low.  We got about 2 carbs from our broth, 1 from the veggies and hot sauce.

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