Friday, January 21, 2005

feelin' pho-eey

this is the boy who loves pho.
"mom when are we going to have pho?"
it's 2 degrees Fahrenheit, -21 degrees below 0, with the windchill factor (actual temp. + wind speed = how it feels on the skin).
i'm not complaining.
i'm skidding all over town driving to school and back and picking them up and back.
i'm not complaining.
i know exactly where we were this time last year so i am quite content.
last year #2son and i were in the hospital--he has asthma, and a little cold for him blows up to a very big deal. his lungs needed help, so he was hooked up to the oxygen for 5 days. it felt like i used up one of my 9 lives. the pediatric ward of any hospital is the saddest place on earth i think...
husband and i were so torn up inside, trying to act like the grown-ups, when in fact we were scared to death. we celebrated Chinese New Year in the hospital by having pho, his request. the two older kids came to have dinner with him everyday and as they left both had eyes brimming with tears. each night.
he is all better now, and under very good medical care he is a very robust and happy child, full of zest for food and games and...just about anything. appetite.
i celebrate him and my children everyday. here's to good health for all our children.
this is #2 son's pho...
(psst! 6-12 inches of snow expected tomorrow. who's complaining?)

make a soul satisfying beef broth by simmering a pound and a half each of oxtails and beef marrow bones.
skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface, season with salt, pepper, peppercorns, 3 shallots or 1 large red onion, 1 peeled 2-in. knob of ginger, 2 pieces of cloves, 2 star anise, and 1 stick of cinnamon (add as much or as little of spices as you desire). this is the "winning combination" that my children savor.
chill the broth if possible in order to defat (remove the solid grease that forms on top).

Thai basil

we top our pho with bean sprouts, very thinly sliced red onions, cilantro, torn up Thai basil, and thin slices of skirt steak which you may add to the boiling broth, or to the soup bowls if you like the vegetables crunchy and the steak rare. serve lime wedges and bird chilies alongside.

i like mine with fish sauce and hot chili sauce. husband bites the bird chili as he has his pho (he must have some dragon blood in him).
completely forgot about the rice noodles: used a pack of Jiang Xi rice vermicelli, 1 lb., prepared according to package directions. it doesn't have the odd rice flour smell and cooks like pasta.
if not available use rice sticks.
to serve, portion out the noodles in serving bowls, arrange toppings on noodles, then ladle hot broth over (or put toppings in boiling broth to cook, then ladle over noodles). enjoy!