Or should I say “Do You Really WANT To Know What You Are Eating?”
I hate surprises.
I really hate surprises.
I really, REALLY hate surprises!
Culinary ones, that is.
For example, I get cold chills when someone mentions a secret ingredient.
Chicken gizzards hiding in that soup? Yup.
Vinegar in that cherry pie? Yuuup.
Raccoon in the compote? YUPPERS!
So, I have become very sensitive when it comes time to knowing exactly what is in the food I am eating. I scour the menus and the ingredient list and sometimes peer into the garbage cans to make sure no surprises are lurking in the salad bar.
That said, it does not mean that I am hesitant about unusual foods. I just want to make sure that what I am eating has no plans to come back and bite me in the ass.
That can be my undoing.
I have become so used to unusual foods that I forget other people may not be as aware as I am as to what they may be eating.
Let’s talk about Pho.
That is pronounced Fuh not Foe.
It is a Vietnamese noodle soup that I absolutely love. If you have never had it, you must and soon!
I got hooked on pho when I was living briefly in Philadelphia and it has remained one of my favorite foods so I make a point of taking friends to Pho#1 here in Indy when they visit as their food is just great.
Anyway, a friend of mine came to visit and I took him to get some pho as he had never had any. Of course, I took him to my favorite restaurant and we both ordered big bowls of beef pho.
“Is this like ramen?” he asked.
“Yeah, but better.”
After about ten minutes of eating, we started to slow down and talk.
There are parts of the broth I always pick out and set aside. As I picked out a particularly large piece, he asked me what it was.
“Oh, that’s the flavoring.”
“Beef fat, right?” he asked.
“Tripe, actually.” I popped back.
“Tripe? What’s that?”
Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
“Just part of the cow you normally don’t eat.” I said.
His eyes narrowed.
“What part of the cow?”
“Am I eating cow penis?” he said a little too loud and the people around us turned to look.
“Shhhhhhhhhhhh! It is not cow penis.” I loudly whispered.
“Then, what is it?”
“Really?” he asked.
HE’S GONNA THROW UP! I KNOW HE’S GONNA THROW UP!
I waited for the explosion…
“Okay.” he said and took a big swig of broth. “Cool!”
NOW LET’S DO IT RIGHT!
Beef Pho Noodle Soup
2 ounces fresh cilantro
1 bunch scallions
3 white onions
2 ounces fresh Thai basil
4 ounces bean sprouts
4 lbs tripe (you can can use beef marrow if you like instead)
3 lbs. flank steak
1 dozen star anise
1 ginger root
1/4 cup brown sugar
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup Asian fish sauce (Nuoc Mam)
3 lbs. pho noodles
1. To a large pot, add two gallons of water and bring to a very low boil.
2. Chop the meat and lightly boil.
3. Drain and cool the meat and set aside. Discard the water.
4. Add two more gallons of fresh water and again bring to a low boil.
5. Chop and add 2 onions along with the fish sauce.
6. Add the tripe and cool slowly. Make sure to skim regularly to remove fat.
7. Slice the ginger root and lightly brown in a pan with the star anise and cloves.
8. Add the cooked beef to the broth and lower the heat to simmer.
9. Lightly boil the pho noodles in a separate pan and drain.
HERE’S THE SECRET!
10. Place the ginger, cloves, and star anise in a fresh piece of gauze and allow to simmer in the broth until the sauce is flavorful.
11. Add the pho noodles and garnish with the cilantro, basil, scallions, bean sprouts and remaining onion.
SERVES 6-8. ENJOY!
Copyright Mike Hobbs 2017