Pho of Vietnam

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While writing this post, Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” is dancing through my head, playing through the speakers as I type. This particular brand of jazz is resonating with the cuisine experience that happened mere hours ago – something multilayered & complex, exciting, and changing the game. So many elements are happening in each bite: fresh, cold, crisp veggies; sticky and soft rice noodles; spicy jalapeños; sweet, juicy bean sprouts; charred but tender pieces of beef; and a glorious, hot, ultra flavorful stock.

Truly, the secret to having the best Pho experience is … 1) inviting as many different ingredients, textures, temperatures, flavors as you can, and 2)  creating the best homemade stock you can manage. That’s where the complex flavors are hidden. If you’ve never made homemade stock before, do so now. Here are some tips (and recipes) for first-timers or the curious. Making your own stock is easier than you may think. I cooked my own beef stock in a slow cooker all afternoon… It gave me time to daydream about all the other meals I am going to make with the leftover stock, (unquestionably, my future looks very French).

This meal reminded me of Taiwan’s Beef Noodle Soup, easily a favorite of this journey so far. The process is straight forward: Cook the rice noodles; slice jalapeño & scallions; sear the lean flanks of beef (but keep it rare); top if off with bean sprouts & cilantro (I’m trying thai basil next time). Raw, simple, no fuss, but nonetheless adding intrigue through its fresh and textural components.

And I rest my case. If you’re not up to the task of making it yourself, seek out your neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant instead of that American Bar & Grill. Go wild.

Ingredient List

  • lean beef sirloin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • onion
  • ginger
  • beef broth
  • anise pods
  • a cinnamon stick
  • scallions
  • jalapeno pepper
  • fresh cilantro
  • fish sauce
  • fresh bean sprouts

 

Quick Quotes

S: “This reminds me of Taiwan’s Beef Noodle Soup (one of my favorites). I could live very happily off of Southeast Asian cuisine.”

T: “Amazing! The broth is undeniably the star, but it’s everything together that makes it memorable and delicious.”

Trivial Trifles

  • The capital of Vietnam is Hanoi
  • The official language is Vietnamese
  • Along with China, Cuba, and Laos, Vietnam is one of four countries established as a one-party socialist state
  • Vietnamese cuisine features of combination of the five taste “elements”: spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (earth)
  • In northern Vietnam, there is a colder climate; this impacts cuisine there by featuring fewer spicy foods and overall variety due to less food production and spice availability
  • Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest due to its reliant use of fresh ingredients

 

 

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