52 weeks of cooking – Stocks and Broths
There are two parts to a good Vietnamese pho, a rich flavorful stock and the toppings.
Let’s start with the stock. Lots of people use the term stock and broth interchangeably, but there is a difference. My food hero, Alton Brown, defines a stock as being made with bones while a broth is made from meat and vegetables. This means that a stock is packed with collagen, this has an impact on it’s texture, it ends up being heavy and velvety on the tongue. On the other hand, broth is just a flavorful liquid and lacks the weight of a stock. I believe in stocks, specially for a soup like pho when there are minimal components, you want every player to count and stand out on their own.
Part two, the toppings, which is pretty much everything else, herbs, crispy bean sprouts and barley cooked beef all covering a bed of noodles. These things can’t be skipped, of coarse you can go vegetarian and substitute the beef with tofu or a different preferred protein. Thai basil and cilantro add a pop of freshness to balance the richness of the stock and the bean sprouts add a needed crunch of texture. A sprinkle of mint, sliced chilies, green onions, squeeze of lime, a dollop of chili paste and hoisin sauce are also welcome additions.