Posted August 22, 2010on:
Made a big batch of pho+? this weekend. I started on Friday and just finished the last part of it moments ago. Whenever I make this particular “dish,” I always think of many people I have met, whose opinion on pho invariably turns to “my mom/wife’s pho is the best” “you won’t get it anywhere else in the state,” etc. etc.. No matter what secrets of the trade they impart on me, I end up not tasting much greatness. I would feel as if I had just walked into a random pho place in CA and ate a $6 bowl – yum, but, shrugs, what’s the big deal? Even with Son’s mom, I have only tasted really tasty pho from her once. The rest of the time, it was “yum, but whatever.” Son’s mom tells me that she’s an uneven cook, just like me. I think her taste buds are better than mine, because on her uneven days, her food still taste good, while mine could easily meet the trash can. I have only had one successful pot of Pho that I could call “great.” Maybe Chau can testify. After all, she came when I made this pot of god’s gift, and she ate tons of it while she was at my house. By the time she left, I hardly had any to freeze. Maybe that’s why I remember that pot so fondly, the pot that I didn’t get to eat to my heart’s content.
Recently I have gotten better. I have learned to just make the simple soup stock – bones, meats, salt, bit of rock sugar, and charred onions all simmering for hours. When that’s done, I freeze what I intend to save, and then add spices to the rest of the pot just minutes before we eat. In the past, I used to season the entire pot which oversaturate all my senses, and consequently, I can’t taste anything. I used to hate eating the pho I made even though Son liked it. I just go so sick of smelling it the first 3 days that I would go into the Ranch99 plaza to eat restaurant pho while Son ate mine at home. Now I season as I go so in case I have an uneven day, It would only last a meal, the next gets a fresh batch of stock. I do this to most soupstocks now, with many happy results.
I think many people swear by their mom/wive’s pho because it’s what they are used to and feel comforted by. I used to dislike my mom’s pho, ha ha, so I don’t have a frame of reference. My mom used to start her pho by cooking 2 chickens, skimming all the fat out, then add beef cuts and spices. I don’t know… I want my pho+? bo` to be made of shin bones from COWS, My idea of great pho is what it tastes like in restaurants, ha ha ha. I strive for that, but I don’t use bouillons or msg, so that should count for something, right? Linh KS just sent me a bag full of sa’ su`ng, one of those secret ingredients that guarantee great pho. Having never seen anything like it in my life, I just grabbed a handful and threw it into the pot, end of story. Linh said I need to soak those things first, then cut them up to clean the insides of sand… oh well! I call it fancy sea salt.