Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Perfect Pho

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There was this one day when I was looking through the internet for some way to turn tofu into fake fish because that very day, I had tasted the worst vegetarian 'fish' anyone could ever come up with. And suddenly, I stumbled upon a recipe for Pho. Or more specifically, vegetarian Pho. It looked pretty darn good and so I stored it up in my computer for another day. So comes today. I've had a uncler under the bottom of my tongue and my throat hurts badly on the left side. I decide that this is The Day for Pho and I make my way down to the supermarket for ingredients. Basil wasn't available and I thought I had ginger so didn't buy those.

I changed the broth recipe a little. Instead of using clear vegetable stock (Who has clear vegetable stock which tastes like anything, anyway?) I decided to boil up shitake mushrooms for a stronger stock. The stock was strained through a tea towel (Never knew how much little bits could come out of shitake mushrooms.) and then I threw in star anise, cinnamon, garlic, onions, bay leaves and left off the charred ginger because my ginger had gone all gross. Somehow, when you use your wrist to bash up garlic, 8 cloves of that stuff is a lot. After that, the soy sauce was thrown in liberally and a pinch of salt. I left it to boil for about 30 minutes while I cut up onion rings, washed the cilantro and deseeded the chilli padi that had already gone slightly dry. The rice noodles were left in boiling water to soften along with the beansprouts. After that, the whole thing was assembled. Rice noodles and bean sprouts, onions, cilantro and topped with a perfect red chilli. Hee. The soup was poured on, the lime wedges posed on the spoon and I snapped a picture of it.

The Pho was pretty good. I could taste the different spices used in the soup. Also when I poured the boiling soup on the noodles, I could smell the chilli and cilantro as they got a hot bath. For a person who screws up most recipes, I think I did pretty good on this one. Maybe tomorrow, I'll experiment with stewing deep fried tofu in the soup and using that to replace the beef.

Another project of today was the idiot proof red bean pasteI made. Never underestimate the ability of sugar. I was in despair when I realized that there was too much water in the bean mixture and I didn't want to add tons of sugar to get it to thicken. So I left the thing boiling on the stove and went to watch some TV and in about fifteen minutes, heard the thing spitting and hissing and discovered that the water had evaporated and the sugar had made the whole mixture sticky and shiny. The mixture was beat up with a whisk (a spoon couldn't stir up enough of the mixture at one time to prevent me from getting burnt.) and then thickened pretty darn fast from then on. What I'm going to do with that, I have no idea, but I'll figure something out. One day.

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