My man and I are so opposite in so many ways.
I like pasta, he doesn’t.
I opt to relax to some beautiful folk music, he prefers rocking out to Linkin Park.
I like clean and orderly, he barely notices.
But if there is one thing we can ALWAYS agree on, it’s beef noodle soup. Forever agreeable. Vietnamese style. Pho.
In our hometown of Pensacola, we had our one go-to place that served us well for several years. We’d go, pick out a quiet booth, and order the same thing every single time:
“Can we get two A3’s, and two P2’s (small, please), and 2 smoothies, with strawberry and avacado, MIXED, with extra boba…”
It was comfort. It was fresh. And it was inexpensive AND delicious. And we went pretty much on the weekly.
Then life unexpectedly uprooted us and moved us to North Carolina, and we weren’t sure if we’d ever get to enjoy a piping hot bowl of Heaven on Earth again. But God above heard our prayers, and gave us the desires of our hearts, and allowed us to move about a mile down the road from a very similar Vietnamese restaurant here in NC. Familiarity returned, and our bellies were filled again.
In our frequent need of comfort, though, the bill began adding up. We started revisiting the idea of looking into some recipes to see if there were any glimmers of hope that said we could successfully make our beloved dish at home. We weren’t very optimistic.
How does a person of ZERO Asian descent recreate THAT amount of flavor and authenticity? It’s just THAT good.
But it turns out, all you need is a good broth recipe, a nearby Asian marketplace, and some patience.
And without further ado, I present to you the product of the title of this post:
**The recipe I used is not my own. I stumbled upon this lovely recipe and step-by-step video tutorial, and I adapted it to what I was able to find and not find in my local grocery stores.**
Essentially, I followed Joanne & Adam Gallagher’s (of Inspired Taste) recipe exactly, aside from not being able to find yellow rock sugar and the cardamom pod. Everything else, however, I either already had on hand, or was able to find in Publix, and the Asian marketplace down the road. And it was delicious. And tasted nearly identical to what we’ve been obsessed with for so long now.
Watching the video and seeing how easy it really is to get that authentic Vietnamese flavor in the broth – which makes Pho what it is – made me so excited to try it out for myself and my little family at home.
A couple take-aways from my experience:
- Find a good Asian market near you. Be confident. Walk in there, and ask for things you aren’t knowledgeable about. It really makes things so much easier. I had no idea what beef leg bones looked like before, but I knew the soup wouldn’t be the same without them. They were inexpensive, and readily available at the Asian market. And although Publix carried a slew of different kinds of Asian rice noodles, I wasn’t able to find the kind that I needed specifically for Pho. Also, SPICES. Goodness. I don’t want to ever admit how much I paid for whole cloves and cinnamon sticks at Publix. But these types of spices are used generously in Asian cuisine, so it makes sense that these markets would carry them. And the price difference was incredible!
- Do not get lazy during the steps of skimming the scum off the top of your broth during the cooking process. As you will see noted in the recipe, this process really makes for a more palatable and pleasant broth. Nobody wants any floaties in their soup. Skim the scum.
- Try and find the rock sugar. I couldn’t this go around, unfortunately, but I will be looking for it between now and my next batch of Pho at home! Having had Pho so many times before, I’ve become accustomed to a certain sweetness to the broth that I now know as what comes from the rock sugar. Having to leave it out this time, I could tell the difference. However, it was still divine.
- If the idea of using sliced rare beef in your bowl freaks you out, maybe look into other options like cooked chicken breast, or seafood. My husband and I, personally, enjoy the tenderness and flavor of the rare beef the most. After all, the meat is sliced almost paper thin, and its so fun to watch it cook as you pour the scalding broth over top of it.
A total success! We garnished with all of our favorites like bean sprouts, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, hoison sauce, and sriracha sauce. Even our three year old devoured her bowlful.
“I like dis brof! Can I have some more brof? Mmmm. Brof.”
Try it out for yourself. Enjoy the depth of flavor. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the delicious comfort.