Depending on your pho philosophy, you can go super-simple or ornate with the tabletop pho garnishes. I keep things easy with regular spearmint (húng) from my garden and chiles that I’ve purchased or grown at home. Conventional limes can be bracing and take over pho flavors, so I prefer the Garlic Vinegar on page 106 for a light tang; ripe (yellow) Bearss lime and Meyer lemon are good, too. During the warmer months, I’ll add Thai basil (hung quế) because it’s at its peak- ditto for a type of spicy mint (hung cay) sold at Viet markets. When I’m in the mood for bean sprouts, I’ll buy superfresh ones and blanch them to mellow their flavor and texture.
I’d tried lobster and fish pho at Vietnamese restaurants in the United States and was surprised (and somewhat aghast) that they simply cooked the seafood in beef pho broth. The lesson learned from those experiences was this: seafood pairs well with pho spices.
Great for pho beginners, this recipe is also terrific for cooks in a hurry. It involves less than 45 minutes, during which you’ll doctor up store-bought broth so it says, “I’m pho-ish.”