Pho Broth: The Soul of Vietnamese Pho
Just my .02 cents, and as in brewing beer, in this soup
one of the main ingredients is the water. When I attempt
to make my Pho, I believe that I am going to utilize some
water that would similiarly brew the finest beer i.e. a
Light Pilsner where no flaws have room to hide....
Absolutely TRUE! It is ideal to use at least filtered water (through a Brita or similar) and it DOES make a real difference. Also, one really should invest in stainless or stainless clad stock-pots. The best have a HEAVY diffusing disc of layered/ composite metal at the bottom and thinner walls; like the Italy Made Centurion line (not inexpensive but worth it).
@J-DuB: You are way too technical for my grandma (and many Vietnamese) to understand or care ;), but what you shared is very helpful for many others, including newbies. From generation to generation and between family and friends, it's always been "add this and cook that until this soft and add that and simmer the other for so and so hours until tender and until it tastes like this," etc. But now that Vietnamese pho is "out of the bag" so to speak, many non-Viet start to take interest in pho and the way it's done, so I'm glad that together we can bring this great comfort food to a much larger mass.
@Dave and @J-DuB: I understand your view, though I am not convinced filtered water will do much to pho broth, not the way it can do for beer anyway. In fact, if you don't get the rest of the broth correct, filtered water will be a waste. In a restaurant, I'd rather they make the broth right, and I can drink the filtered water instead of the tap water they give me.
@Cuong: The whole idea with "filtered" is to just continue to use the best ingredients possible and realize the every ingredient; including the water you use or the pot you choose, makes a difference. Even if it's very subtle in taste. As for technique; one wouldn't necessarily have to even "boil/blanch bones/meats" first if you start your pot:
With COLD water, cover your ingredients and bring to simmer (160 F) and leave it at that for about as long as you want. So yes, one could even do this in a Crock Pot on LOW and let it go.
When making stocks/ broths, it's very simple understanding of chemistry as well as a bit of physics.
Agitation and excessive heat... BAD. That's why one ends up with cloudy stocks. When you heat up bones/ proteins/ connective tissue TOO much, you 1) break down the collagen too far and 2) you are dissolving other proteins that bind, say the calcium, in the bones and so leads to cloudy appearance as well as muddy flavor.
Once CAN clean up the broth by patient filtering through cheese-cloth. Then clarifying with; eggwhites whipped with Knox powdered geletan and some ground meat, but it's a total pain in the ass.
Starting COLD, bringing up the target temperature s l o w l y, holding that target at 160F is a LOT easier than: Blanch and Wash and then make or trying to RUSH the process; taking the extra steps to correct.
Digital thermometers are CHEAP and very useful.
Oh and @Cuong... I LIKE your "pointless bs" and your "dumb long; unnecessary info"
People above have made those comments. I was poking fun at the previous comments, not at you. Some of those previous comments are a little old and certainly did not mean to have it come across as "you have offended me" or I am trying to offend you". I have respect for your blog/ articles.
I do know about "clear broth" and what it takes to achieve that. There are ways to simplify the process and still achieve a "clear broth". The only thing one cannot do is: RUSH the simmering process.
Personally, I hope that people DO give a shot to making Pho at home, at least ONCE. The making of which helps to build good fundamental cooking skills and maybe people will be more "picky?" of what they eat.
@J-DuB: I got your points now. Thanks for clarifying. And thank you for the point of the message.
With respect to making pho at home, no doubt I agree with you here. People should know that making pho at home is very easy especially if you live in the U.S. or metro area where decent Asian supermarkets exist. When there is no Asian/Viet food ingredients is when you will have to resort to substitute ingredients and end up with "fusion" pho; which is totally ok to get your pho fix. This was exactly what my family and many Viet families had to do circa 1975 -1980 when the only choices were Chinese markets in distant cities from where we ended up in the U.S.
By the way, my friend and founder Brian Nguyen at Quoc Viet Foods has the same goal to help people make pho at home, and he has turned it into a successful business. His approach is somewhat different, where he provides good quality broth bases to help those too impatient or less knowledgeable to make pho from scratch. Unlike other soup bases on the market, Brian's stuff is high quality and gives authentic flavors. Another beautiful part of his concept is he literally takes the ingredient availability factor out of the equation and provides pretty much everything in one package. This ensures all important flavors are there even if one cannot find the correct ingredients and spices in his/her locality. Anyway, it's another way to make pho yourself at home.
i shall try making.. I have made tons of bone soup.. the longer you boil it, regardless of par boiling first, the milkier it looks and leaves the clear zone. this is the bone breaking down and is quite good for us with glucosamine etc