Faux Pho (Or Fee-Fie-Pho-Fum)

Pho — it’s actually pronounced Fuh, my joking not withstanding. Pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish, a flavorful broth with bok choy and traditionally beef, beef tendon, tripe, fish balls, or seafood, rice noodles, and is served with Thai basil or fresh mint, bean sprouts, sliced lime, sliced jalapeno (or in our case serrano) Tonight I made Shrimp & Squid Pho.

Since I was starting with College Inn Low Sodium, fat free broth, I need to  add a fair amount of seasonings to give it the full body of a broth simmered all day.


  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger root, grated or minced
  • 1 piece of lemon grass, slit open with a knife blade
  • 1 tbsp. Sriracha or garlic chili paste
  • 2 tbsp. Fish Sauce (you can find it in most grocery stores)
  • 2 tbsp. Low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Carrot, peeled and sliced into thin disks
  • 4 to 5 stalks of bok choy, washed, greens rough chopped and stems in thin slices
  • 8 C low sodium chicken broth
  • 8 oz. rice noodles
  • 8 oz. shrimp, shelled, tails left on.
  • 4 oz. squid, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 scallions, cleaned and sliced

Put all of these ingredients up to and including the broth into the pot and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

2016-09-07-06-19-06In the meantime, put a pot of water on to boil. Turn the water off and add the rice noodles. Let sit for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and either put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep it from sticking together, or cover with cold water until you’re ready to serve.

After 1/2 an hour, the broth should be full of flavor and ready to go. Add the shrimp, squid and scallions.

NOTE: Today I did some research and learned a little about squid. Cooking it so it remains tender requires one of two techniques. The first is flash cooking. Basically, squid takes about 30 seconds to cook. The second is braising. If you need to let it cook longer, it then needs to braise for 45 minutes to an hour. Anywhere in between the one minute and the 45 minutes, and you’ll be chewing rubber bands.

So, back to the recipe. Add the shrimp, squid and scallions, stir the pot once, and serve. Take a large soup bowl, add some noodles and then ladle up the goodies from the pot. You may or may not be able to find the lemon grass, pepper corns and cloves, but be sure to remove them rather than eat them.

Finally, serve them up with a platter with lime slices, fresh Thai basil or mint, fresh bean sprouts and slices of jalapeno or serrano peppers.

This Pho is not exactly what you’ll get in a Vietnamese restaurant, but it is a great substitute and easy to make at home.

If you prefer to use beef over seafood, substitute beef broth for the chicken broth, or even combine some of each. You can use many kinds of beef, but if you choose to use flank steak, freeze it for about 10 minutes and slice it paper thin. Instead of cooking it in the soup, add the raw meat to the bowl before ladling in the broth. It will quickly cook and stay tender.



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