The name began with Fe-Fi-Faux-Pho
Then it evolved to Fe-Fi-Pho-Yum.
And on my Instagram story the day that I made this I wrote: "Fe-Fi-Pho-Yum, this semi faux pho is not hum drum".
Semi faux pho you may ask? I began with beef broth. I did not make my beef broth from scratch. I did however wrap some cinnamon sticks, star anise, charred ginger and onion as well as some ox tails in some cheese cloth. Those flavors cooked into the broth, giving it a very authentic flavor, with out the day long laboring of making and skimming broth. It was seriously delicious. It had all the flavors of the labor-some broth, but with half of the effort. And I kind of feel like that is a win win.
The other faux-pho element was using deli sliced roast beef... I will not brag as boldly about that substitution as I will my broth. It wasn't bad per say. But I would take a different route next time. I also used shiritaki noodles to save on calories. But rice noodles would be the traditional route (duh); as well as a simple swap.
The broth and other elements were definite keepers however.
Any time I can have the comforting flavors of pho in my tummy in the comfort of my own home and take an afternoon nap after; I am going to chalk that up to a super duper win. I am all about the small victories in life. Did I get my kids shoes on the right feet today? Did I wash my hair? Remembered to lock the house? What can I say, I am easily impressed. (Except that I am also not, and have obscenely high OCD standards. Haha).
Let me also say, this was a lot of soup. When my husband is out of town, I tend to make food and eat the same thing for lunch and dinner for a few days. I have to get my fix in of the foods he does not enjoy eating. Pho is one of the things he is not obsessed with. Why? I have no f-ing idea. It literally blows my mind. The other day I got a pedicure with a dear friend. They were running a few minutes behind on our appointment. What did we do? We found the closest pho place, got it to go, and then ate it while getting pedicures. Literally the best decision I have made in my entire life. Okay, maybe not; but it is certainly up there with the smartest.
For the Broth:
64 oz beef stock
1 lbs ox tail
3 star anise
2 cinnamon stick
1 charred yelllow onion
3-4 thumbs charred ginger
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
You will need cheese cloth or something to wrap the aromatics up in. If you don't have it, I guess you can manually strain and sort through for chunks.
1. Cut your yellow onion and ginger into large pieces. We are just going to expose more surface area so that there is more char. Truth be told, I forgot mine and over charred it. Probably about 15 minutes or so on broil is good. So if you're referencing my picture... um, slow your roll. I got a bit aggressive on this one.
2. I use my Dutch oven for everything. So why not Vietnamese soup? Lol. You could of course use a stock pot. But if you want to be like me (which I am fairly certain no-one does), the go get yourself a Dutch oven. You will thank me. If you have one, cool, we are good in my book. Empty your beef stock into the Dutch oven.
3. In cheese cloth, wrap your charred ginger, charred onion, star anise, cinnamon sticks and ox tail. Tie it at the top and lower it into the broth.
4. Add your fish sauce, bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cover. Let flavors cook together on a low heat for a few hours.
All of the other stuff?
Well this can go a few ways...
You should absolutely have :
a few limes
Thai basil (regular basil if you can't find Thai basil)
Mung bean sprouts
fineley chopped green onion
fresh jalapeno slices
sriracha and/or chili garlic paste
These ingredients are things that you will find at any and every Vietnamese Pho restaurant.
I did a few things differently than "traditional" pho.
First, I have read online that people use deli sliced roast beef as a quick substitute for the thinly sliced pieces of steak. I thought hey, time saving pho, lets give it a go. Truthfully, I was not super thrilled with this choice. I wouldn't repeat it. I am not shocked by this outcome, but hey, I have to eliminate worthless shortcuts from my life along with the next person.
Pho of course can have seafood, beef, chicken and vegetarian options.
The beef bowls go from thinly sliced steak to meatballs and tripe.
Seafood typically has prawns, calamari/squid and fish balls.
Chicken is well, chicken. It is typically shredded.
And each place I have eaten at has had a different variety of vegetarian vegetables.
These are all choices you can make based off of individual preferences.
Ingredients are best when cooked in the broth. So depending on the ingredient, this would be 2-3 minutes to 20 minutes or so.
I also used shiritaki noodles instead of rice noodles. Truth be told, the rice noodles are better. I don't think that is any surprise. I did not make this choice, for ease, convenience or time. This choice, sad as it may be was based entirely on caloric intake. Shiritaki noodles (if you are not familiar with them) are typically made with a Japanese yam and have virtually no calories. So you have a choice between traditional and yummier flavors and calories. Don't worry, I feel you! This is my life long battle.
Short story long...
You will either need a package of thin rice noodles, or 3 packages of shiritaki noodles.
The shiritaki noodles just need to be drained, rinsed and placed into the broth until heated.
The rice noodles need to be soaked in cold water for 20 minutes or so then boiled for 2 minutes, stirring to keep them from sticking together. Then remove them from heat and liquid until you're ready to add them to your bowl.
Putting it all together:
meat or veggies of your choice (preferably cooked in broth)
a portion of cooked noodles, in broth
top with basil leaves, chopped cilantro and onion, Mung bean sprouts, a lime and some jalapenos slices
sauce add ons are hoisin, sriracha and chili garlic paste