Pho-tastic Adventures in Vietnamese Cooking – CHALLENGE

Can you guess from the title what I’m making? No? I’m sure the pho-to gave it away though!

This week my friend and I decided to do a challenge with each other!

The terms – make a chosen recipe within a week. The stakes – a satisfied tummy or a frustrated burnt pot of nothing.

The recipe – Ready, set, pho! (It is just too much pho-n using all these puns and homonyms. I apologize if you are groaning. But I don’t really care because it’s a blast to write!)

I love Pho. It is one of my top favortie Asian soups. It’s warm, spicy, comforting, refreshing and cooling all at the same time. Plus you simply can’t beat the price per serving ration. Usually around $8-10 for a GIANT BOWL that will give you leftovers (usually two more meals’ worth!)

I was excited to try making it on my own. But HOO-HEE. The authentic from-scratch method takes over 3 hours and the use of beef knuckles and leg bones… and I’m really just not familiar with nor comfortable with using such new ingredients in such a new dish. (This recipe at Steamy Kitchen seems very easy to follow though, if you are daring enough!)

I briefly researched a vegetarian version, correctly assuming it would be easier. But the recipe makers themselves often said the flavor just isn’t as rich. There really is NO replacing the scrumptious heartiness of a bovine’s bones and flesh boiled into your soup.

So I looked for the cheater’s version.

After much research (okay only like 3 different sites. I get bored and HUNGRY easily!) I decided I’d combine a couple recipes together. This is mainly a mashup of the long version from Steamy Kitchen and the cheater’s version from Tale of 2 Kitchens.

IMG_2016(2)So. This soup wasn’t actually quite pho.,,

It was really good! It had the definite trademark flavors of pho… but it was too sweet and rich. The broth is obviously too dark. And I left out the beef because I am too lazy and fail at grocery shopping.

This pho-inspired soup was rich and warm and spicey – but in a full of spices way. I think I used too much of the seasoning packet. Or maybe I used the wrong one?

Finding the proper ingredients for a new recipe in an Asian supermarket is RIDICULOUSLY hard. I will chuckle at my bewilderment and overwhelmed searching in a few years… I’m sure. Once I’m more experienced and confident in my recipes and ingredients. (Vietnamese is really difficult to figure out. Thank gods that there is always a transliteration with “phò” boldly printed on anything having to do with… well, pho.)

I’d write out my recipe, but suffice it to say I’m not sure it’s replicable or worth replicating. I definitely DO want to try this again though! Maybe more closely following a legit recipe. Perhaps I will do the whole multiple hour long process someday soon after all.

But in the meantime, if there were winners, I think it would be Nikki. At least hers LOOKS like pho should. XP

(She will shortly be having a blog to which I will link this post! Check back for updates!)

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