Friday, April 17, 2009
I Love Pho & Wine
I have come to believe that Pho is about as perfect a dish as can be. Warm broth made from beef bones and other good-for-you spices served with rice noodles, scallions, thai basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, hoisin sauce, lime wedges, and sriracha sauce (if you like a little spiciness, which I do). Why bother to make Pho when it is cheap and good at most Vietnamese restaurants? Good question as I still go out to eat for Pho fairly often. The answer is because what I made at home was so much better, and most likely more nutritious. I used fresh rice noodles, and the best ingredients I could find. The result was spectacular. I even ate it for breakfast.
For all you vegetarians I hate to disappoint you because I do love veggie dishes, but great broth comes from bones, and Pho's essential ingredient is great broth. Also bone broths are really good for you.
They key to Pho is the broth and there lies most of the work. It has to simmer for at least 3 hours with the bones, spices, onions, lemongrass and ginger. Most of these I found at the Asian market, and the bones I picked from Cibola Farms in Culpepper as we get the meat for our bison sliders at the wine bar there. Technically I used bison bones, but no matter the result was just as good and they pasture raise their animals which is really important to me for health and environmental reasons.
The recipe I use is basically this one except for one key difference. I roasted the bones (20 minutes at 450 degrees), ginger and onions before simmering them for the broth. I can say without a doubt this lent an added richness that made the extra step worth it. I also use 1 tablespoon raw sugar (to the overall pot of broth) which like salt, helps to bring out the flavor of the spices. Going to the Asian supermarket will get you all the ingredients you need including the fresh noodles.
Wine pairing: 2008 Linden Vidal/Riesling.
Here is a great example of where it is OK to break the white wine with fish, red wine with meat rule. This ever so lightly sweet white with high acidity was the perfect complement to the beefy , spicy broth and greens in the Pho.