Faux Pho Ga

I’m sad to say, but Summer here is starting to slip away and the weather has started to get cold. I mean, mid 50 to 60’s and having “dragon’s breath” at night. I’m a Southern Californian girl who lives in flip flops year round, rain or shine and I love Winter! I may possibly be crazy staying up here while my husband deploys (my first one and i’m all of a sudden scared), but I am pretty curious about the crazy Winter they have here. I’ve been asked to move back home with my parents who are estranged from each other, but thats a whole other story for a whole other day.

This week has been a very tough week for my husband and I. With the weather changing ever so slowly, to finding out last friday that an old and very dear friend of ours passed away. He was deployed, had an accident and did not survive. My heart yearns to hug his wife and boys to pieces and to tell them that it will be okay, but will it? The boys will grow up with faded memories of their dad, knowing that what he did was so brave and so heroic. Okay, gosh i have got to stop thinking about this or it’ll drive me crazy when my own husband leaves.

So, with that ramble brings me to my Faux Pho (pronunced “fuh” NOT “fo”) Ga I made tonight for dinner. Now, if you’ve never had real authentic Pho before, I advise you to. There’s just something about it, like a really nice massage or a hug. For me, Pho just wraps its arms around me in a tight hug and makes me feel like everything will be just a-okay. Now, i’ve named this Faux Pho because the process did not need a copious amount of hours like the real deal, and it does not use bone marrows to create the stock. Most of the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store, Asian Market and possibly the commissaries. For me, i had to personally order my Star Anise pods from a seller on Amazon because we just do not have a store here that carry specialty spices unless the Amish (still can’t find their store here) has some? The fragrant stock reminded me a lot of the Chinese herbal medicines my mom use to take and it was a little strong, but overall very tasty. The original recipe called for very thinly sliced beef eye-of-round, but I had some chicken that i needed to use up today which still worked perfectly. I just boiled it in Chicken Stock with the spices for about 15-20 minutes. Let it cool and pulled it apart into pieces.

Faux Pho Ga
by The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook
The essential recipe collection for today’s home cook

7oz Rice flour noodles (Banh Pho)
6-8 Cups Beef Stock or prepared low-sodium broth
5 whole cloves
1 1/2 TBsp Ground Ginger (or 4 thin slices fresh ginger)
3 Star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 yellow onion, sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb thinly sliced chicken breasts
1 bunch fresh basil
2 limes, cut into quarters
Sriracha and Hoisin sauce for serving

In a bowl, combine the rice flour noodles with warm water to cover and let soak for about 20 minutes.

In a soup pot, combine the stock, cloves, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, onion, salt and pepper to tase. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes or til fragrant. Strain the soup into a large bowl using a fine mesh sieve, discarding spices. Return stock to pot and simmer.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Using a strainer, immerse the drained noodles into the water for about 10 seconds til tender, but firm. Drain and place in soup bowl. Repeat with remaining soup bowls. Divide the cooked chicken on top of noodles, add simmering broth.

When ready to serve, squeeze fresh lime juice, add basil, hoisin and sriracha and enjoy! You can also add bean sprouts or fresh mint.