Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Seafood Noodle Soup - Pho Style

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I couldn't believe it when I saw it.  The Fresh Market had this:
Right there by the chicken and beef broth.  I was very dubious.  But I bought it anyway.  It has been sitting in my pantry for a couple of weeks.  Finally, I tried it.  Oh.  My.  Goodness!  I considered keeping it a secret, and when I cooked it for every member of my Vietnamese family, they would think to themselves, "Wow, Thanh is the best cook in the family."  But the Nguyens are really probably all too confident about their cooking ability to admit such a thing.  We are also all very competitive, so even if I did make them this superior soup, they would probably spend 12 hours in the kitchen to outdo me.  The point is:  you don't have to now.  Not with this organic soup base flavored with star anise, cinnamon, and ginger.  It's gluten free, fat free, and vegetarian! 
Instead of traditional pho noodles, I wanted to use these "glass noodles" also known as cellophane noodles.  They're slippery and thin and great to slurp.  Like shirataki noodles, they have little or no flavor until you add them to a sauce or soup.  Then they absorb flavors really well.  Okay, all I know about shiratake noodles is that I read about them in a couple of cookbooks.  One of them was by Sam Talbot, in The Sweet Life.  I follow Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop web site, where she mentioned it.  Then I was intrigued to read about a diabetic chef who must have many boundaries in his cooking.  But then I read every page of the Top Chef contestant's book, and I was convinced that I could live off his healthy and delicious recipes.  I plan to order the shirataki noodles online soon - I haven't been able to find them in any of the stores that I frequent.  And believe me, I frequent many!  I stand around at work and tell people I never shop anymore, but that's just not counting groceries.  Some women post pins of shoes all day on Pinterest, while I'm constantly obsessing over what to cook next!
I love to shred imitation crabmeat the way that I've seen them do in some sushi restaurants.  The thinner you can shred, the more like a noodle it becomes.  You can add any kind of seafood that you like.  I used shrimp, crabmeat, and musssels.  The Vietnamese restaurants usually also add calamari.
    Be sure to add some sriracha, hoisin, and fish sauce!  It will taste like you've been simmering the broth with aromatics for hours and hours like the original made from scratch version.

  • Vegetarian Pho Soup Base
  • Seafood (shrimp, crab, mussels, for example)
  • Noodles - any Asian kind
  • Fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, & perilla are all great)
  • Condiments:  Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, and Three Crabs brand fish sauce
  1. Heat the soup base in a medium sauce pan over high heat.
  2. Once it is boiling, add the seafood.
  3. Serve over noodles with fresh herbs and condiments.

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