I love Vietnamese Pho, a clear brothy soup with vegetables, noodles, and meat, or some combination of the three. I’m not saying that I nailed the recipe, as it seems shrouded in mystery and everyone has their own version, but I did create, on one recent unseasonably cold night, a reasonable facsimile, out of what was just banging around in my pantry. Remember those staples we talked about so long ago?? This is where they come in real handy.
And this isn’s so much a recipe as a suggestion of ingredients for an Asian style soup and how to use up those zucchinis you thought you were going to eat fresh but ignored for three days instead and began to wilt. I’m listing ingredients here but the portions need to be tailored to how much you want and your own tastes, and what you have knocking around in the back of your cupboard.
FOR THE BROTH:
1 onion, preferably yellow or white
A FEW DROPS Sesame oil (a little goes a looong way)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 star anise pod
Low sodium soy sauce
Hot sauce (Sriracha if you have it, Texas Pete or Tabasco or Cholula or whatever you have)
Chili garlic paste (1 spoonful)
White vinegar or cider vinegar-a few dashes OR half a juicy lime
Stock- Chicken or beef or vegetable works, whatever your preference
Noodles (rice or buckwheat or soba; or even dried noodles from a packet of ramen, WHATEVER)
White onion, sliced thinly
Cilantro, ripped or chopped roughly
ZUCCHINI PICKLES! (recipe to follow)
**This is what I did, because this is what I had. I would also use bok choy, spinach, water chestnuts, lemongrass, hoisin, basil, jalapeños, and/or mushrooms. Anything you might find in a soup or dish in an Asian restaurant is fair game I think. Do what you like!)
Heat the onion over medium in the vegetable oil for a few minutes while it softens. Add the dried spices and chili paste and sesame oil and cook evenly. After about ten minutes, add the soy, hot sauce, and stock. Bring to a boil and throw in the snow peas, onion, and noodles. Cook until noodles are tender, and serve immediately with cilantro, sprouts and zucchini pickles.
Again, this is a combo of ingredients which you can adjust to your tastes, and the amount of zucchinis you happen to have. The original recipe I found was for about 3 pounds of zucchini, and I only had two. Two zucchinis, not two pounds. So there was a lot of guesswork on cutting the recipe, and since I’m terrible at math and impatient, I just poured in whatever amounts I wanted and hoped for the best. Good thing the recipe is forgiving, and easy, and will turn out great however much you do!
Zucchinis (sliced into very thin coins; use a mandolin if you have one)
Any old small onion, yellow or white again is best, hacked into thirds or fourths
Mustard seeds, whole, not crushed
Colman’s dried mustard powder (a little is enough)
I love this recipe because they’re great the next day and you don’t have to worry about sanitizing, sealing, and waiting a month before you tear into them.
Pour equal parts cider vinegar and water to a stockpot and bring to a boil slowly. Add the rest of the ingredients to the brine, sugar, salt, dried mustard, mustard seeds, turmeric. Turn the heat down and let it simmer while you chop the onion and slice the zucchini. Put the veggies in a heat safe jar and pour the hot brine over them, pop in the fridge with the lid OFF, and let cool for a few hours. Close the lid after a few hours and let the pickles sit and souse over night. Eat the next day with some awesome noodle soup!