“What’s Cooking” in Victor’s Kitchen

I have been thinking about this for a long time. It is one of my favourite street food. Not Malaysian. Not Thai. But Vietnamese. I miss this dish dearly. It cast a spell on me. It’s seductive. It’s addictive. I drool over it. I pulsate and perspire at the thought of it. Whenever I had the opportunity and if it is available at a place I visit, I will be drawn to it like a powerful magnet. There is no letting go. I can’t get enough of it. I will finish every bit in the bowl. It has a lovely aromatic and seductive fragrant, like a strong perfume. The first bite in my mouth send a big wave of sensation through every nerves in my brain and body. I leave the after taste in my mouth as long as I can to seduce me.

I am talking about “Pho”. It’s Vietnamese. It is an iconic food in Vietnam. Everyone has their own version. I don’t have one. So I had to google search. When I typed in “pho recipe” it came up with 600,000+ choices. I settled on one that has all the aromatic spices that I am thinking to myself. So it has to work.

So, why it took me so long to even dare to attempt this national and most popular Vietnamese street food? I never think that I will come to this. Can I do justice to this wonderful, beautiful and most favourite dish of mine?

My partner came home last Friday from a local supermarket. He said that he got something for me.

I said, “What?”

“A packet of pork bones.”

“Yeah….what am I supposed to do with them?”

“Well, I thought you may want to make something out of the bones,”

“….like making stock or something like that.”

Then, I thought about it. Hey, I can make “pho” stock. But, I need a recipe. So, I googled and googled until I found one that suits my palate. It’s like you know it will work, and you can almost taste it in your mind. This recipe is posted by Tasted by Two. I have make some adjustments based on what I have got in my kitchen. I use pork bones. It will have milder flavour than beef.

Lots of pork bones, 2 cinnamon sticks, 3 star anises, 8 cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon fennel, about 4 inch ginger and 1 red onion halved.

Boil enough water in a stock pot. Add pork bones in boiling water. Continue boiling for 5 minutes. A layer of scum rises to the surface. Remove all scum. Drain the water, and rinse pork bones in running cold water. Set aside.

Dry pan fry the dried spices until fragrant. In a stock pot, heat some oil and fry gingers and onions until fragrant. Toss excess oil away. Mix the slightly toasted dry ingredients in the stock pot and mix through with the onions and gingers. Add pork bones. Fill pot with enough water to cover all the ingredients. Turn the heat up until water is starting to boil. Lower heat and simmer with lid shut.

45 minutes gone past. The aroma of the stock fills our rooms. Definitely smell like pho. I had the first taste. Not quite there yet. I added 6 tablespoons of fish sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Turn heat done to low and continue to simmer with lid on. I will check again in a couple of hours. At the mean time, I will rush to a supermarket, about 40 km from home, to get the other ingredients to eat with the pho stock.

I came home with a packet of dried Hor Fun (rice noodle), 1 lemon, 1 white onion, 1 red chili, a bunch of spring onion, basil and coriander, and 2 chicken breast fillet. Prepared the ingredients and set aside until about ready to eat – our Sunday afternoon snack.

After 4 hours of simmering, we can’t wait any longer and had to try it. The results – not bad. Yes, just not bad. The flavour was subtle. It was aromatic. The bits of pork meat on the bones were divine and melted in my mouth. Will I do it differently the next time? Definitely. I will use beef instead of pork, for a stronger flavour. I will probably try some other Chinese spices to give the stock a Chinese twist. I am thinking “red dates” and “goji berries” for added natural sweetness in the stock.

12 responses to ““What’s Cooking” in Victor’s Kitchen

  1. Oh it looks so good Victor! I really love pho too. My all time favourite soup. But I’ve never attempted to make it. I’m always amazed you can manage to buy ingredients from Huonville Woollies – you make it look like a cosmopolitan chinatown grocer!

    Imagine you will have find delicious pho in Melbs, sniff.

    xx

    • Michelle – I didn’t go to Huonville. I went into Kingston’s Fresh Fruit and Veg store. But, the pork bones came from FCM Huonville! They were good cut bones too. Very surprising! The dried spices, I have already got plenty. Let me know what you need. Happy to give you some. 🙂

  2. Victor your ingredients looked good enough to eat raw. Would you believe I’ve never had pho…will seek out one when in Melba next… :’)

  3. Victor,
    You are right Beef do have better flovors to the broth, with thinly slice strip of steak and beef meat ball. I put fresh bean sprout in my pho. I add sugar, fresh lime juice, hot pepper sauce, hoisen sauce. I eat pho with a condiment like fresh green leaves lettuce, long string bean, fresh red thai peppers, mints and shrimp paste to dip.

    • Thanks, Salalao. I will do this again, and add those extra ingredients suggested by you. Healthier to have more greens too.

  4. Made Pho for extended family a fortnight ago. I used beef bones. A tip I learned from the Red Bridge Cooking School, Hoi An,Vietnam….put bones into oven, rinse in clear hot water to remove some of the fat – then into the stock.

    Being based in Melbourne I went to Victoria St but frankly – Footscray @ Little Saigon has better quality ingredients in my opinion.

    Would you like to know how to make the PHO noodles seeing as you can’t readily buy them?

    Enjoyed reading your version and the pics. Thanks.

    • Peter – thanks for the wonderful tips. Yes, please. Love to hear how you make pho noodles.
      Next time when I am in Melbourne, I will try Little Saigon. I usually go to Richmond. Isn’t there a Little Saigon in Victoria St as well?

  5. It is sad there are no great Pho restaurants in Hobart, but when I need my pho hit, this is one of the best (but lenghthy) recipes for the stock..mmmm the smell.
    This wonderful site is run by a Lao chef living in Spain.

    http://laocook.com/2009/02/23/oxtail-pho-stock/#more-2141

    Dillon

  6. I was looking for a recipe for pho to do at home. I tried yours. The soup is brilliant. Best regards from Warsaw! Agata

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