There are at least two things in this world that I just can’t eat. Beef is one. The smell just gets me and I can’t. Beef used to be apart of my diet but ever since I cut it out to opt for more vegetables in my life, the appeal has gone.
The second is onions. My body doesn’t like them. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have some sort of intolerance to onion (and garlic too) so 98% of my cooking excludes the use of these ‘kitchen staples’. It all tastes awesome though so I’m going to dispute anyone who says you need both of those ingredients to make a decent meal.
One thing I love to eat is pho. For those of you who haven’t heard of the life-giving broth that is Pho; here’s a Wikipedia link for you to explain the history of this wonder-soup. If you can’t be bothered with that, Pho (or “Phuh” as it’s meant to be pronounced) is pretty much an onion broth with Asian-y flavours (think lime, chilli, mint, etc.), traditionally topped with beef or chicken.
So you can see my dilemma when I get the pho cravings. It’s easy enough to remove the beef and just have a vegetarian version (provided you’re not eating the traditionally made broths which are flavoured with fish sauce) but THE ONION IS STILL THERE! And there’s no escaping it. You can’t get the traditional flavour without the charred onion. Woe is me.
Every now and then I make the choice to sacrifice my good health for a day or two to devour a massive bowl of freshly made pho noodle soup. A rich broth of onion, spices, ginger and mushrooms topped with fresh chilli, bean sprouts, mint and lime. My face smiles while my body cries. Delicious.
It all starts with charring the onions and ginger over an open flame. Even I can appreciate the beauty of a charred onion.
The same goes with the ginger. Char it. When that’s done, toast fennel, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and dried chilli in a pan. Your house will now smell like delicious.
Slice the ginger, onions and chop button mushrooms and add to a pot to slightly sauté. Cover with either vegetable broth or water. Add tamari and some salt for flavour.
Simmer for two hours. (I know – NOT quick! But it’s worth it. Trust me!). Continue tasting throughout the cooking process and add salt or tamari to taste.
It will turn out to be a beautiful dark golden coloured broth. All the flavours. Super yum.
Chop broccoli, carrots, tofu and enoki mushrooms and place over cooked rice noodles. Garnish with mint, basil, bean sprouts and chopped chilli.
Just before serving, pour still simmering broth over vegetable bowl. Let sit long enough for vegetables to cook slightly.
So with the coldest of weather on its way (here in the southern hemisphere that is) I’d say it’s time to bring out the warming dinners for those breezy and cold autumn evenings. What better way to do that than with a traditional (sort of) Vietnamese Pho? There is no better way. Get warm. Eat pho.