Sunday Pho Experiment

A very useful habit I've started over the last few months is saving my vegetable scraps.  Stuff like: onion and garlic peels, the ends/peels/seeds of peppers and tomatoes and cucumbers, the stalks of herbs, and just generally anything that would add to a pile of veggies ready for stock. I keep all of this in a big ziplock bag in the freezer and add to it as much as i remember to.

Lately, when my bag of vegetable butts becomes full, i've been turning it into stock for pho.

I have made pho from a homemade beef stock a few times, and it is delicious.  However, it is very messy, really fatty, and honestly not really any better than veggie pho.  I'll definitely do beef pho again sometime, and probably try chicken at some point as well, but for now i'm pretty happy with this.

so here we go:

I actually started the stock on Saturday, thinking that i was going to make the pho that evening, but decided against it and stopped after the first few steps and just covered and refrigerated the stock for the next day.

I'm not going to write this one out like an actual recipe because, well i'm not sure exactly what was in that bag to be honest.  It's a little different every time.  Also, i use the spices all on a "to taste" level, and there is quite the list of spices, so i really don't know what quantities i ended up putting in.

The first step in this pho (and also in the beef one i've made) is roasting ginger and onions.  I took two medium red onions and a few healthy hunks of ginger and cut them in half, brushed them with olive oil, and put them on the highest rack of the oven at 450 for about a half hour, flipping them halfway through.

Once these were in the oven roasting, I put the contents of my frozen bag into a large pot and added water to cover it all and heated it up to a boil.

To supplement the stuff in the bag i also prepared:
3 leeks, chopped up a bit
a dozen or so crimini mushrooms
twenty or so okra fruits, halved

Once the onions and ginger were done roasting, and the fresh veggies were chopped up, I added all of this to the pot. At this point, the stuff from the freezer bag was boiling and no longer had big frozen chunks, and the kitchen was already humid with soupy goodness. Then i added more water to cover this and brought it all back up to a boil.  Once boiling, i brought it back to a simmer and let it bubble away for a few hours.

this is where i covered and refrigerated the stock to be continued the next day.

The following day (and what a day for food... House of Nanking for lunch and homemade pho for dinner), I started again by bringing the pot of stock back to a boil and then back down to a simmer.

Then i prepared the spices to be added.  As I said, I'm not sure on quantities, picture shows initial estimation that i measured out, and i then ended up adding more salt and a few more cloves if i remember correctly.

Here's the list:
Cinnamon Stick
Cardamom Pods
Ground Cardamom
Star Anise
Fennel Seeds
Fish Sauce (used about a quarter cup)

I also threw in a handful of chiles de árbol

With the spices added to the pot, I let it simmer for another hour or so and worked on preparing the myriad condiments that accompany any good pho:  sliced fresh peppers (i used jalapeño), bean sprouts, sliced lime, fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh cilantro (all chopped coursely)

After that i prepared the rice noodles.

The final step before serving was simply straining all of the solid veggie matter out of the soup itself.  Once this is done, it was time to eat.

This soup makes me happy.

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