Archive for June, 2007

June 28

Hey, what did you drink in Vietnam?



Yah, I drank shit. It was amazingly good.

WTF are you talking about?

Coffee. The coffee was shit. Figure that out.

For non Viets or non coffee fanatics: Cafe Phi….one of the most prized coffees produced in Vietnam, is made of shit. Literally. The coffee plant is eaten by squirrels and other animals, then digested and defecated. The plant and coverings are peeled in this process and the bean is defecated out, and that is what is harvested. This coffee is for kings. Ironic, isn’t it? Who knew.

June 11

The Vietnamese word “phở” is properly pronounced with a falling-rising tone, as if asking a question. Its final vowel is not a long “o,” but instead rhymes, at least to Anglophone ears (in English) with the “u” in the English word “but”. A more accurate way to produce this sound is to make an English /o/ sound but not round the lips. The “ph” is pronounced as an “f.” The resulting pronunciation sounds like ‘fuh?’.

Everyone has been asking for my family’s recipe and directions to make Pho, my favorite Vietnamese noodle. Well here it is! These are catered to what I do at home so if your recipe is a bit different, go for it. I just keep the family tradition and this is how my momma makes it!

– 4 lb Beef shank or beef shins (Bap Bo in Vietnamese)
– Rock Candy (yellow). one large rock
– About 7 quarts Water
– Shabu Shabu beef .. 1-2 lbs
– star anise
– nutmeg
– cinammon sticks
– one onion
– one jicama
– one ginger root about 3″
– fish sauce
– siracha
– hoison sauce
– basil
– bean sprouts
– sliced limes
– pre cooked refrigerated noodles
– very thinly sliced beef
– chicken

How to make the basic broth….
Boil the beef in water until the gunk comes off and rises to the top.
Throw everything away and rinse off beef in clean water. Boil again with new water. Continue making broth for 20-30 min and filter out grease on top again until clear. If using Bap Bo, when chopstick is able to spear the meat through and through, the broth is ready.

Once broth becomes clear, add herbs star anise, nutmeg, and cinnamon according to taste. (For a big pot serving 6-7 people, one 3-4″ stick of cinammon, about 4 nutmegs and 5-6 aniseeds are good.)
Add onion and peeled jicama to add sweetness.
Toast peeled ginger root until slightly brown, then add to pot.
Add fish sauce until taste is mildly rich but not too much. Add more after the herbs have settled for an hour or so.

Lastly, the noodles need to be separated. Do this when everything is almost ready so the noodles don’t get cold and stick together like glue again.
Boil water in a large pot.
Add the noodles when water is boiling.
Separate with chopsticks and take out after 10 seconds.
Do NOT leave to sit in water for long; they will get soggy and mushy.

Shabu Shabu beef is best. They need to be as thinly sliced as possible for fast cooking when the broth is hot.
Place raw meat on small plate on the side and let each person cook their own meat when the pho is brought out to them.
This keeps the meat from being too overcooked by being in the broth too long.

Place washed basil, bean sprouts, mint, sliced limes or lemons, chili peppers on platter and serve garnishes fresh so each guest can pick and choose what vegetable they want in their Pho. There are also sauces to adjust the flavor to your desire… siracha, hoison sauce, fish sauce are some of the best and favorites.

If you must go to a Pho restaurant, I have two recommendations in Little Saigon. My family only goes to these two places because they use the least amount of MSG … and we HATE MSG!

1) Mon Ami on Euclid and McFadden, Westminster CA. The best thing to get here is the Pho Ga [chicken pho]

2) Pho Lu on Brookhurst and Westminster, Garden Grove CA. The best pho here is the Pho Duoi Bo [oxtail pho]