I was just pining for real Asian noodles with broth and wishing that someone would cook them for me. Our Asian takeout restaurants, like in many towns and cities here in the U.S. cater to Americans who don’t really want to eat “foreign” foods but like to say that they did 🙂 This is also true in small towns in France. Outside of the restaurant, I have become friendly with the owner of the popular Chinese takeout in Hawley, PA and he admitted that they have adjusted their menu to feature what he calls “American Chinese Food.” Not real but profitable.
So anyway, I lay in bed last night dreaming of some noodles I had made with a fabulous mushroom broth and as usual, my tangential mind hopped from broths to Asian dishes that involve broth, to the king of broths, Pho and whether I could make a Pho broth using mushrooms as the base instead of the oxtails or beef shins I usually include. It sounded like a plan and although failure can be disappointing, I laugh in the face of disappointment, Ha, Ha, Ha. Trying is part of the fun. Also “believe me”, I’m always concerned about vegetarians getting a decent meal every once in a while 😀
Beef pho broth is usually simmered for at least 4 hours to concentrate all the flavors and tenderize the meat. In this recipe I simmered the mushroom pho broth for 2 hours, hoping that I’d get a concentrated flavor after that length of time (It’s hot in the kitchen) and I did. It’s good!
So that’s it for today. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’ll go out to eat. Saturday will be noodles with beef, vegetables and pho broth!
Vegetarian Pho broth
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms
2 large onions, quartered
1/2 bulb garlic, fresh if you have it, quartered
1 inch ginger, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
5 star anise
4 or 5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, halved
3 bay leafs
1 tsp white peppercorns
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
3 quarts of water
1/4 cup fish sauce
Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water for about 30 minutes.
Add the olive oil to a skillet, then brown and toast the onions, garlic and ginger then place in a large stock pot along with the mushrooms and their water, the star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, peppercorns, fennel seeds, plus the 3 quarts of plain water.
Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the flame and simmer for 2 hours. When done, add the fish sauce. Drain the solids from the liquid and discard. If not using immediately, cool and refrigerate.