It was about a year ago that I introduced the boy to pho. I wasn’t quite sure if he’d like it. In retrospect, this was a dumb thing to think, because as he put it so eloquently and manly, “It’s got meat. What’s not to like?”.
Pho is my go-to meal for when I’m feeling under the weather or not feeling so hot in general, and is especially therapeutic if one is suffering from a hangover (I think of it as the Bloody Mary of foods). The closest pho to our house is actually not really close (I think it’s about 10 miles); but on a weekend dealing with surface street traffic, it can take a while to get to. We usually frequent Pho Mimi Noodle house, which is located in the same plaza as the Super H in Duluth; but they’ve since opened a Super H in John’s Creek which is closer to home, so we don’t shop regularly in Duluth anymore. There are no pho places anywhere in Alpharetta or John’s Creek, so when the yearning for pho gets to us, we have to trek it to Duluth.
Last week, while the boy and I were watching the season premiere episode of Top Chef which we’d DVRed, we got to talking about pho and our longing for pho, and what we could do to make it, which prompted me to post a question on the Serious Eats message board (we got some good responses). Saturday morning while watching nonstop news coverage on TV of thunderstorm and tornadic activity in the area, and totally bored out of our skulls, we started to make the broth. We followed this link provided by Serious Eats reader malenky (thanks!) and pretty much followed the recipe exactly except for at the end (which I’ll get to in a minute).
Since there was threat of hail, and the winds were high, and there was a tornado on GA400 which was trekking along la-dee-dah down the highway and then jumped into Lake Lanier, I was not about to turn on the grill to char my onions and ginger outside; so I charred them on the stovetop. If you are going to do the inside grilling route, it’s best to stand there and keep an eye on it, even though it will take a while. The onion skins were flying straight up into the air and all over the kitchen, and I really didn’t want one landing on something flammable, so I stood there and kept an eye on it.
I did how the recipe suggests and parboil the bones – I didn’t take a picture of this step because it was pretty foul-looking actually, with all that scum bubbling on the surface. Later, after rinsing the bones, scrubbing the stock pot, and replacing the water and bringing back to a simmer, I chucked in all the other ingredients and that unmistakable enchanting aroma wafted out of the pot. I guess it must be the star anise. On its own? Too licorice-y. Floating in a vat of beef stock? Perfect.
After several hours of this, the pho was perfectly clear, and we tasted it. The boy determined that it wasn’t “beefy” enough, and although I protested, he chucked in a spoonful of veal demi which immediately made the pho broth darken. It did render it more beefy (nice description, I know, but that’s exactly what it was, More Beefy), but that clearness was gone. We strained it and it’s now resting, waiting in containers in the fridge. I’ll probably freeze most of the broth before we get around to actually using it, which won’t be until this weekend.