Fred R. Bernard penned a line in 1921 which is on every persons lips today: A picture is worth a thousand words. Last night, I understood the true worth of this quote. My aunt in London, who is quite an inspirational gourmet chef herself, send me a picture that left me speechless. The pixels did all the talking while I stared in awe. She had just made one of her specialties; Vietnamese Pho Soup and decided to give me a glimpse of it. Who thought soup could ever look like a piece of art?
According to historians, Pho soup is essentially Vietnamese but with French and Chinese influences. Through the process of charting oral histories, Hanoi was confirmed as the birthplace of this beautifully crafted soup. It was the staple of the textile merchants who visited Hanoi to buy and sell their wares.
With all this history behind it, I just had to attempt it in my kitchen. I asked my aunt to send me a detailed recipe so I could try it myself as well as share it. The recipe below has been reproduced exactly how she had sent it to me.
- Chicken wings 1kg (Note: after many experiments, I have realised best stock for Pho soup is extracted from chicken wings)
- 1 medium 0nion, cut in half
- 1 stick celery, cut in 3-4 pieces
- Fresh thyme
- Fresh parsley (both tied at end in a bunch)
- 4-5 whole pepper corns
Add all ingredients in cold water and cook for about 1 hour. Keep
skimming dirt and fat off as it’s cooking. Soup should be very clear
- 1 long cinnamon stick
- 3-4 star anise
- 2″ piece ginger, cut in half not peeled
- 4-5 fresh coriander roots (scrape them to clean and smash a bit with back of knife)
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp Timari soy sauce (Japanese soy sauce.. It’s lighter) or any other light soy sauce
- 3-4 fresh red chillies, chopped in half
- Lime juice to taste
- Salt to taste
Once the stock is done, strain in a colander over a muslin cloth so no bits and pieces go in. Put it back on fire along with the soup
ingredients and cook for 1/2 hour.
- 1 red and yellow capsicum each
- Shitaki mushrooms
- Enoki mushrooms
- Bean sprouts
- Rice noodles (blanched in boiling water)
- Mange tout beans (snow peas)
- Red chillies
- Spring onions
Note: All the above mentioned vegetables should be thinly sliced, jullienned.
While soup is cooking prepare the serving bowl. Add rice noodles, and top them with capsicums, mange tout beans, bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms, scatter 5-6 slices of shitaki mushrooms. ( Note: there should be about 15 grams of each ingredient in one bowl)
Pour boiling soup over it. Garnish with spring onions, coriander and chopped red chillies.
Healthy, hearty and fulfilling; all the ingredients for a perfect soup in one bowl.