Tag Archives: Pho

Birthday Celebration Food!

I rarely pass up an opportunity to celebrate something by eating delicious food.  My birthday is no different.  And although I forgot to take pictures of my birthday dinner with friends at Ceylonta (it was great by the way), I took lots of pics of my birthday celebration dinner with my family.  Recipes to come!

There was all kinds of deliciousness, starting with a cocktail called “The Sunburst” from the Fall 2011 Food and Wine magazine from the LCBO.  I wish I’d gotten a picture that showed the star anise better – it was such an unique garnish, and was a great compliment to the other flavours.  But what can I say, I was more focused on consuming than photographing in this case.  My older brother did a great job of whipping these up – unusual ingredient alert:  Apricot Jam! They were so good, I’ll definitely be making them again.

Note the awesome moustache glasses – I picked these up off Etsy last Christmas!

The Sunburst

Let’s take a look at the whole spread.  Such a colourful table!  MMMMMMM  Pho Bo!

Hungry family digging in!

Don’t forget the wine!

Birthday Feast

There were rice paper wraps to satisfy my never-ending craving!  There are just so many fresh flavours and textures in these.  And putting peanut sauce right on the wrap is also a must.   DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP!!  The rice paper can be tricky, but the trick is to dunk them in warm water right before you use them.  Otherwise they get tougher to work with, and don’t taste as good.

Rice Paper Wraps

And then there was pho of course!

Delicious Dinner Pho Sho!

Don’t forget about the cake!  My younger brother, Drew, killed this one.  He made buttered almond cake which is definitely my favourite cake of all time. Yup, favourite.  It’s sweet, smooth and nutty flavour put it above all other cakes for me!  (I promise to post the recipe soon.)  Check out this thing of beauty:

Buttered Almond Cake

It was a double decker!

Double Decker Buttered Almond Cake

Happy Birthday to me indeed!



Filed under Dinner Parties

Pho Bo

I’m so sad that I didn’t know pho existed until university (there weren’t a lot of culinary options in my small, largely Mennonite hometown).  There are so many pho-less years in my life that could have been so much more pho-filling!

But now pho and I are great friends.  I’ve had lots of great restaurant pho experiences, but in my opinion none of them have been better than this homemade version.  It’s all about the broth.  Often it can be a bit on the salty side in a restaurant, but this version offers a great balance of flavours, and you can easily tweak the amounts to suit your tastebuds.   I used chicken broth this time around, but you can easily use vegetable broth instead if you want a savoury vegetarian meal.

Ingredients for Pho Broth

Notice that the onion and garlic have been chopped into big chunks.  They are just used to flavour the broth, and get strained out before eating.  The big chunks ensure nothing gets through the strainer later on.

Pho Broth

Now char up a little fresh ginger and add that to the broth too…it adds a really deep, rich flavour.

Charring some fresh ginger

While the broth simmers away and makes your house smell so good your neighbours may “casually” show up at your door to see what’s going on, prepare whatever garnishes you’d like to add to your soup later on.

This is really where you can customize the pho to your liking.  Bean sprouts are usually a must for me, but my little local grocery store was out this particular day :(.  Nevertheless, I perservered and came up with some other tasty additions.  Specifically, snow peas, thinly sliced carrots, green onion, fresh basil and mint, lime, roasted peanuts and red pepper flakes.

Other garnish options could include cabbage, bok choy (their crunchiness adds great texture), mushrooms, chilis, cilantro, etc. etc. etc.  Use your imagination!

Pho Goodies

We’re getting close…..the rice noodles are cooked, the soup garnishes are prepped, hoisin is all set to add some sweetness…

Pho parts almost ready to eat

After the broth has simmered for about 30 minutes, strain it through a fine mesh sieve.

Strained broth chunks

Put the rice noodles in your pho bowl, and then add the broth.

Pho building - Rice Noodles and Broth

Now dress it up with your garnishes of choice and enjoy!


Mandatory close up…

Pho Close-up

Update:  I made this again for my family and took a few pictures of their different Pho  interpretations.

The Noodle Lover:  (Despite the ample noodles, this one isn’t actually mine)

Pho Variation #1

The Veggie Lover:

Pho Variation #2

The Kid Version:

Pho Variation #3

The Minimalist:

Pho Variation #4

The I Just Can’t Wait to Dig In:

Pho Variation #5

The Little Bit of Everything:

Pho Variation #6

Vietnamese Pho Bo Recipe

Vegetarian Vietnamese-Style Broth
8 Cups Clear Vegetable Stock
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
8 Medium Garlic cloves, peeled & chopped coarsely*
1 Small onion, chopped, not diced*
1 Inch piece of ginger
2 3 Inch cinnamon sticks
1 Pod of Star Anise
2 Large Bay leaves

1. Put stock, soy sauce, garlic and onion in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium heat. *Make sure the pieces of onion and garlic are not smaller than the strainer you will be using.
2. Meanwhile, char ginger on all sides over an open gas flame or in a small skillet. Add to stock.
3. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise and bay leaves to the broth. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.
4. Remove solids with a slotted spoon or strain broth through a fine mesh sieve. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Return to pot and keep hot until ready to use in soup.

Pho Bo
8 Cups Vietnamese Style Broth
1 Pound Rice Noodles
1/4 Cup Bean Sprouts
1/2 Cup Shredded Cabbage
1/2 Tender Greens, torn into bite sized pieces
1/2 Cup Basil Leaves
1/2 Cup Cilantro, coarsely chopped
3 Scallions, thinly sliced (both green and white parts)
3 Tbsp chopped, roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 Lime, cut into wedges
3 Fresh red or green chili peppers, seeded and cut into five rounds
Salt & Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Make the broth as directed. When broth has been simmering for about 10 minutes, soak the noodles as follows. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Remove from heat, add noodles, and let soak around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until noodles are pliable and easily separated.
2. Drain the noodles and divide them among 6 Bowls.
3. Assemble the soup by placing the bean sprouts, cabbage, greens basil, cilantro and peanuts on top of the noodles. Ladle the hot broth onto the noodle mixture.


Filed under Soups & Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian