How I wish I could remember the first time I had pho. But I can’t. It must’ve been years ago, most likely on a cold rainy day. I must’ve fallen in love with pho instantly. Maybe it was the do-it-yourself approach, where you mix your own special combination of Sriracha, chili paste and hoisin along with cilantro, thai basil and lime. Maybe it was the slurping that went along with each bowl of pho. Maybe the brisket, who knows! I fell in love fast and hard.
Here in Seattle, I have had pho too many times for me to count. More often, than not, I have been accompanied by my awesome pho buddy – Alla! We’ve shared bowls of pho in the heat of summer and in the gloom of fall. We celebrated life’s happy moments with pho, and met over pho to heal broken hearts and soothe sore throats. Last week, when I had a chance to try pho at home, there was nobody else I would’ve rather shared the experience than with her.
Unfortunately, the commercial pho broth I was testing lacked in flavor, and I would rather not recommend it, but the experience of pho at home was fantastic! Next time, I will make my own broth, steeping cinnamon, cloves, star anise, ginger, and garlic for a few hours. For now, I will share with you the how-to on enjoying pho at home.
Alla and I always ask for extra vegetables with our pho. Sometimes we hear a welcomed “yes, absolutely!” Sometimes, our server stares at us and gives us the most definitive “no.” In my kitchen, we get to do what we want. I chopped up carrots, broccoli and cabbage and quickly blanched the vegetables in boiling salted water. Once the vegetables were drained, I used the water to cook rice noodles.
While the broth was simmering and the noodles were cooking, I prepared the condiments for pho: soy sprouts (they are heartier and sturdier than regular bean sprouts), cilantro, Thai basil, and extra lime wedges.
I used a small plate as a painter’s palate and colored it with chili paste, Sriracha, and hoisin sauce. We were ready to eat!
Place vegetables on the bottom of a large bowl. Top with rice noodles and ladle hot broth to cover. What’s next is up to you! Garnish with condiments, give it a stir and slurp away.