Pho Bo: A Love Affair
Sometimes I get cravings for things that I can’t understand. For instance, I have been craving a bowl of Pho for the past month, and I don’t think I’ve eaten it in years. But the craving was so strong it seemed I could imagine holding a warm bowl of it and could taste the delicious broth. However the craving arrived, it came with strength, and I’m glad it did.
For those who don’t know, Pho is a Vietnamese soup. Pho Bo is with beef. The basic parts of the soup are as follows: pieces of thinly sliced beef, rice noodles, a broth that was sent down from heaven, and the extras. The broth is made on its own, the rice noodles cooked seperately, and the beef is raw when put in the bowl – cooked by the broth poured over it. This may not sound like much, but it is a magical combination.
In order to make a pot of pho, I had to take a trip to my local Asian grocery. I have a pretty good one nearby that I visit often. I found fresh rice noodles in the refrigerated section, instead of the dehydrated ones. For beef, I used a sirloin steak cut very thin and on a bias, marinated in a mixture of diced fresh ginger, lime juice, and soy sauce. I did cheat a little on the broth, as the Super Saigon supermarket had a good package of dry mix to make pho broth. I don’t really have the time or patience to boil bones and cartilage to make a delicious soup base.
So once the broth was made I dipped the noodles in boiling water for about 30 seconds, and placed them in the bottom of the bowl. Then I slipped several slices of the beef in the bowl and poured steaming hot broth over it. I topped it with chopped cilantro and a nice chili garlic paste. It was just as good as any restaurant version I’ve ever had. I haven’t flown all over Southeast Asia like Tony Bourdain, so maybe there is a standard that I didn’t reach. For now, however, this is the best bowl of Pho I’ve ever tasted. The beef was so tender and flavorful, and the rice noodles were perfectly cooked.
I snapped a phone picture of the result, so the focus isn’t perfect. Do yourself a favor. If this photo makes you crave it in the same way I did, visit your local Asian market and pick up a few ingredients. I even splurged and bought the matching bowl and soup spoon!