Saturday, February 19, 2005

Faux Phở Follow-Up

And the verdict is ... somewhere between decent and not a disaster. The phở itself was a bit too spicy; the star anise was a bit overwhelming of a flavor in it, and the nước mắm chay was a bit pepperier than I cared for. But the noodles-in-broth went over very well with Evelin and the napa cabbage was a hit too. In the whirlwind of trying to put everything together and eat it in the short window of time we had before Celeste was ready for her bath and bedtime (I thought she'd want to stay up later tonight after the awesome nap she had this afternoon), I forgot to get the lime and scallions together for the garnish plate, but other than that, it came together okay.

So here's what I did:
  • 1 small red onion

  • 1 2-inch segment of ginger root, peeled

  • 28 oz can of soup nǎn chay clear vegetarian stock

  • 4 oz water

  • 1 tablespoon nước mắm chay pha sẵn special sauce for vegetarians

  • 112 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 3-inch stick of cinnamon

  • 2 pods star anise

  • 2 large bay leaves

  • 1 pod black cardamom, cracked
Start by charring the onion and ginger. (I fired up the grill and let them blacken on it for a while; the goal is to cook them slightly and to get a bit of char.) When charred, peel/scrape away the blackened bits, smash the ginger and quarter the onion.

Add the onion and ginger to the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.

While the stock simmers, prepare the garnish.
  • Thai basil, julienned

  • napa cabbage, julienned

  • spearmint

  • scallions, sliced

  • lime wedges

  • hosin sauce/tương ăn phở

  • mung bean sprouts, parboiled
The mung beans can be parboiled in the water prepared for the noodles; just drop them in for a minute or so.

When the phở is ready, prepare the bhàn phở noodles (the 上海類麵 wheat noodles we used turned out really nice, too) according to the package directions — probably they'll need to be boiled for four or five minutes. In the meantime, strain solids out of the stock.

Put the noodles in serving bowls, ladle stock over the noodles, and let everyone garnish to suit their individual tastes.

If we try this recipe again, I will definitely only use one or maybe only a half pod of star anise, maybe just soy sauce (cutting out or at least cutting back the nước mắm chay pha sẵn), and I'm not sure of the cinnamon. At this point we're beyond faux phở and are just in the soup with noodles category, but that's not a bad thing. And those 上海類麵 wheat noodles were quite good ...

To give credit where credit is due, I found phở variations at: Viet World Kitchen, Simmer Stock, Soupsong, Vegetarian Journal, Appétit, Food Network/Gourmet, and Trang nhà Thiên-Lý Bửu-Tòa.

1 comment:

T. Carter said...

Hi Ollie! You might want to give some of the linked recipes a look-see, too, just in case you want to see other suggestions/ideas/meat versions ...