Yesterday, when BBQ Man was just about to head off to uni, I reminded him to have lunch first and added that there was leftover chicken and some rice. I made soy sauce chicken the night before, and it was really, really good. I had plans for the leftover chicken, too. I was going to have it with noodles in a lovely soup made from some masterstock…mmm…it was going to be good. I’d been thinking and dreaming about it all morning.

When I was well and truly hungry, I went to the fridge and pulled out the dish that had the chicken in it. Lifted the lid to find…scraps. I stared for ages, willing my eyes to be wrong. But no. My beautiful soy sauce chicken had disappeared – all of it – and was now in someone’s satisfied belly. I can’t remember the last time I flew into a towering rage.

 My chicken, O my chicken!

 Before I knew it, my fingers were flying over my iphone, unleashing a torrent of swear words on to Facebook. All the ones I never ever use, and never even thought I’d remember. It was just as well that BBQ Man was at uni. This quite possibly saved our marriage. That, and that my substitute lunch was pretty good. No, actually, it was pretty sensational.

This is another masterstock miracle. If you dilute masterstock with some water, it turns into a delicious broth, perfect for having with noodles and chicken (if you can get it…grr). I cooked some shiitake mushrooms with the chicken the night before, and saved some for my noodle lunch. I ended up having some silken tofu and mushrooms with noodles, in the masterstock broth with ginger chilli sauce stirred through.

Sooooo good that I really didn’t miss the chicken. The broth had amazing depth and range of flavour, the noodles, tofu and mushrooms were soft, tender, silky, slippery smooth. I can’t wait to have it again. And. I guess I have to say it : It’s just as well my chicken got eaten.

 

Masterstock Noodles

This dish is easy enough to make the day after you’ve cooked using your masterstock. I cooked chicken in my masterstock and added mushrooms. After cooking, set aside some mushrooms and chicken and about 1.5 cup of masterstock and keep this overnight in the fridge. Strain and store the rest of the masterstock as per usual. I like using somen noodles for this dish; somen is very fine wheat noodles and is great in soup because it takes on that lovely silky texture.

Dilute 1.5 cup of masterstock with 1 cup of water and bring to boil. Add the noodles, and once it has softened, add the mushrooms. Place tofu into your noodle bowl. Once the noodles are just done (it will cook quite quickly), slide it all into your noodle bowl. The masterstock broth will warm up the tofu. Stir some ginger chilli sauce through for a spicy finish. This isn’t a recipe as such-just a rough guide. You can add whatever you like to this dish – blanched beansprouts or bok choy, chicken, beef, pork…the combinations are endless. Enjoy!

You’ll find my Masterstock post here.

Let me explain. My paternal grandfather used the term Grand Passion to talk about his favourite foods. Whenever my dad wanted to tell me that he was indifferent about some dish or the other, he would tell me, ‘That’s not my GP’. (If you’re getting the impression that we talked about food a lot and rather seriously, well, you’re right. We did, and we still do. :D)

Without further ado, I give you one of my GPs, Pho.

 

Pho(pronounced ‘fur’, emphasis on the ‘rrr’) is very popular Vietnamese dish of rice noodles in a clear beef soup. I happen to like soupy noodles in general, and pho has to be one of my favourites. It’s the combination of silky ribbons of rice noodles, the bitter, fragrant bite of fresh basil leaves in a hot, savoury soup that gets me going.

I had this particular bowl of pho in Springvale, Melbourne, in a shop that sells only pho. The variation comes in the size of the bowls : large, massive and humongous; and the kind of toppings: from slices of rare beef to cubed congealed beef blood, or any combination in between. One would expect, and right so, that a shop that sells only pho, will get it down pat. And they do. Pho shops are often open early for breakfast, and close only late at night. They are often quite busy, and even at odd hours of the day, say around 3pm, there will be customers sitting down to their big bowls of pho.

Pho is a little difficult to come by in T’ba, so I’ve resorted to making my own. It’s not overly difficult and the result is quite satisfactory, as far as getting the soup just right. My only regret when I make my own is that I cannot get the right kind of noodles for pho. We can get fresh, flat rice noodles here (kuey tiaw), but the kind of rice noodles that go into pho is finer than kuey tiaw, and have a chewier texture. But I’m quite happy to settle for kuey tiaw as they are easily available at supermarkets.

I like and use this particular pho recipe, from VietWorld Kitchen:

http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/blog/2008/10/pho-beef-noodle-soup.html

VietWorld Kitchen is Andrea Nguyen’s website. She’s one of my favourite Vietnamese cookbook authors and her website is a mine of information on Vietnamese cuisine. I came across her work a few years ago when I was attempting to write a dissertation on Pho. (Yes, you read right. A dissertation on a bowl of noodles. I did say we take food seriously in our family, didn’t I?)

I’d love to hear about your Grand Passion, or at least one or two of them. Share them in the comments section.