It’s 38 degrees outside and the house is filled with the aromas of anise, cinnamon, coriander seeds, and beefy goodness. Ahhh…. Everything seems right in the world. Pho is definitely the Vietnamese version of comfort food. The complex mingling of various spices and hot broth always warms your soul. However, for me, it’s also a way of spending quality time with my dad.
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I’m definitely a daddy’s girl. But my dad is like a huge teddy bear; it’s hard not to love him. Living far from the family does have its perks and downsides, but one of the things that make me miss home so much is my dad. Cooking Pho gives me a chance to spend some quality time with him even though he’s on the other side of the country. Once I start boiling my beef bones, roast my onion, and smell the spices, I feel like he’s right there with me. I even leave the lights off in my living room so that the only glow is coming from the t.v. and only use the kitchen and stove light to create the same ambiance my dad does when he makes Pho. He always cooks Pho late at night right after dinner has all been cleaned up and my mom is up in their room playing Peggle or Solitaire. I think he uses this opportunity as his peaceful time. On more than one occasion, I’ve walked into the kitchen to see my dad through the kitchen window, sitting on a barstool with his back to the kitchen, and just watching the night sky.
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Before I moved to Hawaii, I didn’t get a chance to get a personal Pho lesson from my dad, so he taught me over the phone. The conversation went something like this:
Dad: It’s really easy. You just boil the bones and then flavor it with spices.
Me: Okay…? What kind of bones and what spices?
Dad: (starts to list off a slew of ingredients)
Me: Ho-ho-ho-hold on… what is (insert weird Vietnamese spice name here)
Dad: You know… that spice. Looks like (description)…
Me: ….? (Yelling to my husband) “Honey! Can you talk to my dad?”
(I get the phone back)
Dad: Ok, now season with fish sauce and salt.
Me: How much?
Dad: Just enough until you get the right flavor…
Me: (face palm and a long pause….) O….k…..
Gotta love Asian parents for not believing in real measuring cups. Needless to say, my first attempt was an epic fail.
I’ve been making Pho for about 8 years now, and I think I’ve developed a pretty good recipe. However, I don’t think I’ll ever get my broth to be as clear as my dad’s.
[singlepic id=48 w=220 h=140 float=]Linda Tran. Foodie and EatinAsian Blogger