Grandma’s YouTube Birthday Party

How does a 54-year-old Lao woman celebrate her birthday, you may wonder? Two words: pho and YouTube. As a selfless birthday gift to us, my mom made real pho. Therefore, I selflessly enjoyed real pho made by a real Lao mom. Speaking of which, I am contemplating if I need to revise my Terms of Agreement for my challenge. I’m out of town and won’t be back until Sunday evening, which concludes the “week.” Am I going to have to call in a week? Am I already copping out that quick? Will my Lao mom rad-ness slide back a few points?

I’ll struggle with this tomorrow when I’m having pho for breakfast, lunch and an early dinner. Wait. I shouldn’t be driving after pho because I always get pretty nap-happy afterwards. It must be that MSG that I covet oh-so much.

The non-ghetto version is so freakin' better.

It's like if MTV still had music videos and if they played Lao music.

Humnoy eating one of Grandma's Asian pears. How fitting.

Happy birthday, Grandmommy!

What do you always have to have on your birthday meal? Do you not care or always have a request?

(Grand)Mommy Does Best

You know you need to step up your game when your husband says, “Mmm, it’s good but it’s not Mommy’s pho.” As in my Mommy, the woman who makes the best Lao food that I know. Not quite what you want to hear but I accepted the constructive criticism because it wasn’t called ghetto pho for its elaborate preparation.

My mom is known to tease me with picture texts/videos (I regret ever teaching her this) of my favorite foods from home. I literally will salivate if I see some thom mock houng, Lao spicy papaya salad, up on that iPhone screen! As an attempt to show her I am doing just fine on my own with ghetto pho, I send her my own little in-your-face. What do I get? Insult to injury!

Mommy – 1; Humnoy’s Mommy – 0

Have you mastered your mom’s cooking? What dishes are the most difficult/easiest/fun to make? How often do you consult your parents for recipes?

Weekly Lao Food Challenge: Ghetto Pho

Don’t have time to make real pho? Don’t want to go to a pho restaurant? Have time to run in an Asian market and have $10 to spend? Well then you’re eligible to make ghetto pho for two adult for two days! Enter my first dish for the Weekly Lao Food Challenge.

It was just like any other time I venture into an Asian goods store: Pick up some shrimp baked chips, jelly cups and their cheaply-priced cilantro. I usually walk the perimeter of the store 2-3 times to drench in the “Asian store smell” to see if I can come up with dinner. I left with four packs of instant pho, Thai basil, frozen meatballs, bean sprouts, cilantro and an Asian bakery snack for all of $9.40. How can you beat cheap Asian store goods?
Once home, I set up my ghetto “broth.” To be less ghetto, I use my packaged chicken stock in place of plain water. I slightly thaw the frozen meatballs under running cold water then put them in the boiling stock to reheat as they are precooked. You may wonder what exactly are in meatballs. To this I have no answer but it’s just a conglomerate of meat with tendon. Mystery Meat perhaps?

I set up my bowls. To be fair, I had some pho bowls in my possession because I’m a Lao poser and have them for times such as this. The instant pho comes with seasoning packets, which contain garlic powder, chili powder (if desired) and, of course, monosodium glutamate (MSG). Don’t give me that look! MSG has not been proven to have any long-term harmful effects and is used in plenty of Asian dishes! Why? Because it’s delicious.

I have Lee Kum Lee oyster-flavored sauce, Sriracha, Green Mountain seasoning sauce, Tiparos Thai fish sauce, sugar and Por Kwan instant beef flavor paste. All these can be found in any Asian food store and are critical to delicious Lao pho. I’m missing a few items but these are a must! For those who are used to Vietnamese restaurant servings, I hope you don’t belong to this group. Laotians put sugar in their pho. Why? Because it’s delicious.

Add the remaining fresh herbs, bean sprouts and lime juice — voila! You’ve got yourself ghetto pho! You, too, can feed two lazy and ghetto adults on $10! That’s the price of a small bowl at a restaurant.

One thing I would change for next ghetto pho is buying lower sodium beef broth because this chicken stock really overpowered the seasonings. Hopefully the next time, I just make real pho.

Have you tried instant pho? Would/did you like it?

Be sure to check out other Lao recipes at Weekly Lao Food Challenge.