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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Adventures in Pho (part 1)

My adventure started at the local Asian market. I took the book with me so I wouldn't forget any of the ingredients I needed. This particular market is narrow and deep. It is full to the brim, taking advantage of every available space. Cardboard boxes were in a row on the floor. They were filled with herbs, fruit, and fish. Yes, I said fish. There were boxes lined with plastic and ice with fresh whole fish on top. I have to say, they were some of the freshest looking fish and shrimp I have seen.

I have been there before, but never on a mission like this. It was crowded that day and I was not sure where I would find my ingredients. The first thing I needed was whole star anise. I couldn't find it anywhere. I was able to find cloves and black peppercorns. For future reference, the Asian market is very reasonable on spices. I easily found fish sauce, cilantro, and rice sticks. Then, bingo, I stumbled on the Vietnamese section. They had all kinds of spice packets for making Pho. Some looked like bullion cubes. Others were an assortment of whole spices, including the elusive star anise. I chose some of each for experimenting. I headed to the counter with my collection. The lady at the counter started checking me out without a sound. Then she said, "You make Vietnamese Pho... very good. You got everything". She gave me an approving nod, I paid my $10 and headed home. More to come later...

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