In every life, there must be rain. The sunshine in Southern California is relenting to a brisk air and the need for a light sweater. My oven is active for no other reason than to warm my kitchen because I feel the holidays coming.
November has me feeling blue. It’s arrival marks the sixth year without my mother and the celebration of her 65th birthday. She is missed. Last November was spent in a baking frenzy. Late night cake bakes were part of the evening schedule from Halloween through New Year’s Day. My waistline was not impressed.
I crave comfort. I need a hug. Pho answered.
I have always been curious about Pho. It’s a monthly takeout staple in our house when we can’t figure out anything else that sounds satisfying but it’s not something I just whip up. I was determined to make my own version. I searched every recipe I could find. There is fish sauce involved. I don’t use fish sauce. Mainly because it requires fermentation and other techniques that I’m not willing to reproduce in my home kitchen. More importantly, what the heck is fish sauce?
Following is my version of hug in a bowl. Maybe you’ll make a pot and share the love.
Shrimp or Chicken Pho Soup
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
½ jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1 pound shrimp, peeled w/ tail on or ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” pieces
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
40 ounces chicken or vegetable stock (5 cups)
1 cup parsley leaves (use whole stalk as it will be removed prior to serving)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar (or pure maple syrup)
2 limes, juiced
8 mushrooms (cremini or button) cut in half
8 oz rice noodles (dry)
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno, cooking for an additional minute. Toss in shrimp (or chicken) and ginger then cook for one minute before pouring in stock. Add parsley. Bring to a boil.
Add soy sauce, maple syrup and lime juice. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add mushrooms.
Drop in rice noodles and cook for 5 minutes or until noodles are soft but not mushy
Remove most of the parsley with a spoon before dividing into 4 bowls.
Serve with cucumber slices.
(and hug someone you love.)