The closest Vietnamese restaurant is an hour away. Thanh Thanh 2 on Forest Ave. is by far my favorite. It’s nothing fancy, but their pho hits the spot. I never leave this place unsatisfied.
Sometimes, I just really crave pho – a Vietnamese soup noodle bowl. It’s such a comfort food. So simple yet complex at the same time. Recently, my family decided to get a side of cow from a local farmer. Well, it was our first time getting beef this way, I never realized how much beef we were getting for a side and quickly had to change it to a 1/4 because we really had no room to store a whole side. Now we know and will plan better next time. Well, one of the cuts we got was brisket. Light bulb went off — brisket, I need to make pho. Lots of googling happened. I kind of had an idea, but not really. Lucky for me there was a show on the Food Network that had a Vietnamese lady talking about making pho. I had all the ingredients at restaurant. The key to the ultimate bowl of pho is the broth. There’s really nothing in a bowl of pho – so simple, noodles and beef and herbs, but the broth is so complex.
Picked up some beef bones at the supermarket. I boiled water in a giant pot and added the bones. I let that cook for an 1hr.
While that was going on I roasted some ginger and onions to bring out some more flavor at 400 degrees for 1hr as well. Gave a nice char to the ginger and garlic.
I then toasted the aromatics — cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, coriander, fennel until fragrant. The kitchen had such a wonderful aroma so comforting. I place the toasted aromatics into a cheesecloth bag.
After the hour I added the bag with toasted aromatics and the charred ginger and onions into the stock pot. I also added a handful of rock sugar. The rock sugar gives any stock a more subtle beef flavor than regular granulated sugar. I also added some thin soy sauce. ( I don’t own a bottle of fish sauce, I swear. Sacrilege!!! Yes, I’m Thai and I don’t use fish sauce. That’ll take another long post to explain. Next time.)
I then added the brisket and forgot about the whole thing for 5 hours. It was such a long wait, and the whole kitchen smelled so sublime. I couldn’t wait to slurp down some noodles.
I cooked some rice noodles. Sliced some onions super thin. Took the brisket out and sliced it super thin. Strained some broth. Added cilantro, scallions and Thai basil. I spritz some lime and I slurped away. It was pretty darn good especially after 6 hours of waiting. The brisket was amazing and super tender. You could totally tell it was a locally raised steer. All the flavors were so subtle you would have no idea so many ingredients went into making the pho broth. It’s worth the tackle if you have time.
Though it turned out great. I’m still no expert in pho. Phosure I’m pretty far from it, but if I get another order of beef with some locally raised brisket I’ll definitely tackle pho again, but I think I’ll keep visiting the experts at Thanh Thanh 2 – so much quicker to drive that hour.