Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I came down with my first cold of the season last week. I'm sure it won't be my last--with two small kids underfoot, colds plague our doorstep with wrath and regularity once school starts.
My darling husband never gets sick, that Tosser...although I guess I should be grateful, because someone's gotta run this sinking ship.
I was feeling mighty sorry for myself this past week. I mean, not only did I have to deal with the Exploding Dishwasher Debacle, I had a fiery throat and a stuffy head to boot. I was slamming cabinets and barking into the phone: "Whaddaya Want?" Even Harryboy didn't want to hang out with me.
Normally, when I get a cold, I hop in the car and get myself to the nearest decent Vietnamese joint for a steaming bowl of pho. Pho is my comfort food; I love the complexity of the spiced broth, the sleekness of the rice noodles, the meltingly rare slivers of beef, the bite of the mint and chile. It's Mama's hug in a bowl. And, when I'm nursing a cold, I add extra squirts of Sriracha to blast those nasal passages wide open. It's the food equivalent of antibiotics.
But, as luck and the Appliance Gods would have it, last week I was chained to my house, waiting for the service repairman to solve my dishwasher woes. Trapped without pho. Serious suckage.
What's a snot-filled-girl to do? Alternative? Create faux pho.
Luckily, I had some homemade chicken stock in the freezer. This is usually not the case at my house (I'm no Ina Garten), but some higher power was looking out for me. I also had cinnamon sticks, star anise, ginger and garlic in the house. Yes! Benefit of being married to an Indian dude:I have shit in my pantry that I never would have thought of before.
I defrosted the stock, threw in a teaspoon of grated ginger and minced garlic, followed up with a star anise and a cinnamon stick, stuck the lid on the pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Now I think it wise to mention that the broth for genuine Vietnamese pho is a complex process and most likely takes days to make. But we're talking desperation here. Plus, this is me, and I am lame and take shortcuts all the time.
Shortcut #2: I had a rotisserie chicken in my refrigerator (we slackers usually do). I shredded up the breast meat and set it aside to warm up. Hey, it's not rare beef, but it'll do.
I boiled some rice noodles, stuck them in the bottom of a big bowl, added the chicken, a fistful of bean sprouts and sliced mushrooms, and some very thinly sliced onion, and ladled a huge amount of the broth over the whole shebang.
Luckily, our garden is still cranking out mint and chiles, so a quick trip out there, a rinse, a chop, and my soup was topped. I know other people will cry foul, but I added basil, too. I added a squeeze of lime and this was one happy girl.
I slurped, sweated, and sipped my way to bliss.
serves 2 generously
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon bottled grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
dash soy sauce
4 oz. thin rice noodles, cooked
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
very thin slices of onion
shredded carrots or sliced mushrooms
fresh mint, basil and/or cilantro
jalapeno, serrano or Thai bird chiles, thinly sliced
wedge of fresh lime
Combine first six ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Fish out the anise and cinnamon and discard.
Divide the noodles into two large bowls. Divide chicken, onion and bean sprouts among bowls. Top with hot broth, fresh herbs, chiles and a squeeze of lime.
**And yeah, it did make me feel better. But I always feel that way when my nasal passages are on fire and I have hot soup in my gut...
PS: I have on good authority that my friend Phoo-D is also having asian chicken soup on her mind...I advise you to check her out in a few days for her (assuredly superior) recipe and photos! Go!