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.