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Cheap Eats!

jjmtacoma's picture

I've decided to try my hand at Pho (pronouced Fuh - in case you wondered) because I found lemon grass at the H-Mart, the local Asian market, for a great price. They had great prices on all sorts of produce. Made me sorry I'd payed for organic cilantro at Kroger!

Anyway, I can be inspired by the silliest things. I was already planning to make a ginger chicken soup for dinner but couldn't find the noodles so, of course, a trip to H-Mart was required... then I spotted the lemon grass.

I read a bunch of recipes to figure this out, but I don't have all the right ingredients. Here is my "American kitchen" version (with lemon grass!).

I am using 2 lbs of chicken, mostly thighs and a skinless breast and I've chopped through the middle of each thigh bone because I read that you want to open the marrow to make better broth. It's worth a try. You should choose the noodles you like and prepare them ahead by soaking or boiling according to the package instructions.

Put all ingredients into a large pot:
2 lbs chicken pieces
about 3 1/2 quarts of water
about 3" of ginger root, sliced unpeeled
a large clove of garlic coursly chopped into chunks
the tops of a couple stalks of celery
the ends from a bunch of cilantro
2 stalks of lemon grass coursely choped
1 small onion (about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup coarsly chopped)

Boil the broth and add:
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp clove (or 4 whole ones - I couldn't find them)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt (may need more)

Reduce to a simmer for about 2 hours. Now, either strain the soup or use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetable and chicken. The broth is supposed to be very clear and very flavorful. Pick out the chicken and tear it into small pieces. The torn up chicken can be added back to the broth or served on the side to be added with the fresh vegetables. I put the chicken back in and I added three thinly sliced carrots.

Prepare vegetables:
Coarsely chop cilantro leaves
Thinly sliced red onions
Mung bean sprouts
Thinly sliced red or green pepper
sliced green onion

Probably even zuchinni or snow peas would be good.

Pour the hot broth over the noodles and serve with vegetables. Asian hot pepper sauces and soy sauce are good on the soup too.

I know, this probably isn't *exactly* a proper pho, but it turns out pretty good and even my picky eaters enjoyed it.

** Edited to add onion to the recipe.

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Submitted by lambert on

Even I could do this! And it would last me for days, very efficient! And when the greens start coming in, I could chop them up and add them!

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

The Love Pilot has been jonesing for pho, I'm going to try this!

jjmtacoma's picture
Submitted by jjmtacoma on

approximation of Pho, as long as the "love pilot"(?) didn't grow up eating it.

I've seen sliced jalapenos served with real pho and it seems like cabbage and maybe basil or lime leaves was served with it too.

jjmtacoma's picture
Submitted by jjmtacoma on

I've added it now.

Lambert - I thought of you when I made this, it would be easy to serve over days with pretty much any greens. The noodles aren't put in the soup, so they won't get over saturated.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Recipe for Cheap Eats! how do I submit? Or should I just do my own post?

Submitted by lambert on

1. I made a collection for them to be found at:

2. I also gave all our collections -- Plantidotes being another -- more prominence in the "Corrente Continuing series block.

3. Start a post with "Cheap Eats" and it will show up in the collection.

4. I also opened up the Food taxonomy so people can enter their own tags. It used to be that there was just one tag that made sense: Recipe. Now people can add whatever tags they want, like cilantro or onion or whatever. (Separate the tags/terms with commas).

Thanks for the dedication on these, I think they are great and I wish there were more.

jjmtacoma's picture
Submitted by jjmtacoma on

Sometimes I feel a little silly posting all these.

I do love cooking and trying new recipes, so it has provided and additional "reason/outlet" for my passion. I appreciate that you provide the space and encouragement.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

But hey, whatever, if you are using rice noodles, you really want to cook them separately and rinse them very well. Then add them when the broth is ready to serve.

Don't short the lime or fresh jalapeno slices, lots of fresh Thai basil leaves pulled off the stalk and bean sprouts right at serving.

Still cheap! Especially if you grow your own.

jjmtacoma's picture
Submitted by jjmtacoma on

The rice noodles used in the broth are where the name comes from. I didn't know the first thing about pho, I just knew I loved the taste of soups with lemongrass.

I researched different recipes and methods and then tried this recipe - which I adapted to use my baking spices instead of the whole ones and I had to leave some out. I almost made a Thai soup but I didn't have lime leaves and some other spices.

If you wanted to do a beef pho, the ingredients would be the same but you would use ox tail or beef soup bones instead of chicken to make the basic broth.

Then for the meat for the soup, you could add beef brisket, sliced thin.