Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fee Fi PHO Fun

Disclosure: I know that I didn't use "PHO" correctly in the title. The pronunciation is not with a long o sound, but rather with a short u/dipthong uh. title says "Fee Fi FUH Fun." Not nearly as clever, huh? Oh well. Pardon me and my fun. Let's just get on with the blog post...

I met a friend for lunch the other day, and imagine my surprise at discovering that the same area steak house (The Homesteader) where the Vietnamese owner has delicious Kung Pao on the dinner menu also offers Pho for lunch. Pho! Available right in my back yard! It isn't actually listed on the menu, and when ordering, you just ask for the "Vietnamese soup," but it is Pho, and it is heaven in a bowl for me.

When first introduced to Pho by another sassy and beautiful friend in Forth Worth, TX, I was plopped down in front of a steaming bowl of brothy noodles, a plate of delicate, thin slices of raw beef, a platter of herbs, and a big bottle of fiery Sriracha Sauce. I carefully sprinkled the herbs into the fragrant soup, squirted with hot sauce, dunked the slices of beef into rich and flavorful broth, and was soon slurping those noodles like there was no tomorrow. It was divine.

Since that Texas visit, I have searched out a place in my area "big city" that specializes in this delectable soup, and visit it often. However, to find Pho just a few miles down the highway from my home is incredible. It seems like the food heavens opened up for me...if only we also had local sushi.

I should learn to make Pho at home, but haven't yet tackled that challenge. I don't think the slow simmered broth would be difficult to make, I just tend to lack patience...and have to remember to add the rice noodles to my grocery list one of these days. In the mean time, how about a switch in cultures to try a soup with Mexican flavors?

Like Pho, Chicken and Hominy Soup is brothy and topped with fresh herbs. This simple Mexican soup, takes a short cut by using prepared stock (that is infused with onions, garlic, jalapenos and just a hint of cumin), and hominy replaces the noodles of its Asian friend. Just like Pho, a squeeze of lime over the bowl just before eating brightens it up so well. Chicken and Hominy Soup isn't Pho at all, but it isn't meant to be. It is simply an effortless soup that I loved On My Plate.

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 3/4 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 cups shredded chicken (I rubbed a large chicken breast with olive oil & steak seasoning and roasted, but rotisserie chicken or any leftovers would be good.)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (15.5-ounce) can hominy, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
4 lime wedges

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. 
Add onion to pan; saute until translucent.
Stir in garlic and jalapeno; cook just until tender.
Add chicken, pepper, cumin, and broth; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Stir in hominy; bring back to a boil.
Cook 5 more minutes.
Ladle into 4 bowls; top each with sliced radishes and fresh cilantro.
Serve with lime wedges. (4 servings)

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