Sometimes when you are searching for something your heart desires, the best place to start is at home.
“The world is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment, every sin already carries grace in it.”
– Hermann Hesse
Sometimes I get cravings that are easy to satisfy – chocolate, pizza, a fresh peach. Other times the memory of a specific food will keep popping up in my head, pushing me to search for it. A few months ago, I started daydreaming about pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup with a rich and unique flavoured broth. It had been a few years since I’d had a good bowl of pho and I wasn’t quite sure where to find the best place to order it in our new hometown.
My husband and I went on a hunt to find the perfect pho. At the first place, we discovered they didn’t serve Vietnamese food, only Thai. We settled for delicious spring rolls and pad thai, but it didn’t satisfy my craving. Then, someone recommended the best pho place in town and we tried to find it a few weeks later. Sadly, we were given the wrong name and could not find the place anywhere! Next, we decided to try another place recommended to us. It was a further drive away, but we were told it was worth it. My tastebuds were tingling at the thought of finally devouring a bowl of delicious pho. However, we arrived and the door was locked – they were under renovations for the first two weeks of January! Our search was leaving us empty-handed.
At this point I decided to find a recipe and make it myself. Interestingly, most of the recipes I found were for “faux pho” – a concoction that tastes similar, but nowhere equal to, the real thing. Intrigued, I researched further to learn that the secret to “perfect” pho is in the broth, and that each little restaurant in Vietnam has their own secret method of preparing it. Real pho requires toasting spices like star anise and boiling beef bones for days! Since I knew that was never going to happen, and I really wanted some pho, I decided to attempt a simpler recipe.
My version here is a combination of a few different recipes. And while this one might not be considered the real thing, it was as close as possible to recreating the taste I was longing for. Sometimes when you are searching for something your heart desires, the best place to start is at home. And my “faux” pho was more real than any of the perfect phos that we never even got to taste!
*Note: Chinese 5-spice powder is a blend of different spices used in traditional Asian cooking. It often includes star anise, cloves, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel and various other spices.