I love pho. Really, I love all Asian food. I think I could eat it happily every day for all meals. In fact, I'm sitting here eating left over pad thai that I made earlier this week for breakfast. This is one thing I really loved about living in SF. William and I ate Korean food at least one a week and had pho probably once every two weeks. I keep trying in Moscow, but it's just not the same and it's significantly more expensive. I've yet to see pho, so I resolved to make it myself.
I took inspiration from Barbra at Tigers and Strawberries as well as this Washington Post article she refers too. And in the end, I've come to the conclusion that make pho is a big pain in the rear. But for the love of pho, here's what I did.
Inspired by the Pioneer Woman Cooks, I began taking photos about 15 hours into the process, yes, 15 hours in. Here's what you missed in the first 15 hours. I took 2 kg of beef bones, that's roughly 5 pounds, and I put half in my large stock pot and half in my large crock pot. I covered both with cold water and let it sit. Then I walked away. In fact I went out, but now I don't remember where, probably for Asian food at Daikon. Oh, wait, no, I remember, that's the day I went to the Lotte Plaza (the link is to a post below). Anyway, back to the pho, When I got home, I
rinsed the bones. This time I forced them all into the stock pot, covered again with water and brought to a boil. I let it boil for 10 minutes and you would not believe the gross grey scum that rises to the top. If only I'd begun taking photos!! Anyway, all that went down the drain. The pot was cleaned, the bones were rinsed and then shoved back inside. Only to be covered with water again. I put them on the stove, got it back to a simmer and left again - this time to the holiday party. Seven hours later I returned and turned the heat off.
In all honesty, it was midnight, the pot was hot, so I just left it sitting on the stove. The next morning, I removed all the bones, saved the meat that was falling off, and put the pot outside in the snow. Then I went out for dim sum - yes! Yummy Chinese dumplings do exist in Moscow! I returned and scraped off the thick layer of golden yellow fat. And here's your first picture. The fat was already in the trash by the time I remembered, but still:
(aren't my socks great!)
Here's the pan post fat removal - doesn't it look gross!
Next you take two onions and a big ol' piece of ginger and char them in a pan, then add them to the stock (note I've wiped the pan):
Simmer for another hour or two, then strain the liquid:
Be sure to press on the solids with a spoon, liquid likes to hide in the onion layers. And be sure to strain into a pan, not down the drain. My large crock pot insert is actually blending in with the sink...
Now it's time to get spicy. Toast peppercorns, star anise and cinnamon sticks in a dry skillet. You should also include whole cardamom pods, but I didn't have any. So I just used about a tsp of ground in my tea bag:
Another 10 minutes of simmering (note the plan has actually been cleaned now) with 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. I actually prefer the squid brand to the cock, but haven't been able to find it here:
Oh, you're so close to being ready to finally eat this stuff. Just soak some rice noodles and prepare a plate of garnish - bean sprouts, purple basil, mint, lime. What's missing is hot pepper rings and cilantro, which I rarely see. However, I had the siriacha to make up for the lack of hot pepper.
You may notice some mushrooms floating in there. Well, I had them and I like mushrooms. It was very traditional up until that point, I promise!
And the verdict. Well, let's just say it wasn't really worth the 30 hours that went into it. However, since I can't just run out and get a $6 bowl of pho, it sufficed. But the broth wasn't as rich and complex as it is when I get it at a pho restaurant. However, when I'm again over whelmed with the craving, I've got 6 cups (3 servings) of stock left in the freezer.