A few weeks ago my friend Stephanie was gushing about how much she loves Pho. She then threw a bone my way by suggesting I come up with a Persianized version of Pho. One not to miss a culinary challenge, specifically one that involves one of my favorite types of fusion, I let my creative mind wander. The first thought that came to my mind was using Reshteh, Persian noodles, instead of rice noodles. It was then that it occurred to me that the only two Persian recipes that I have ever used Resteh in are pretty much Asheh Reshteh and Reshteh Polow. Fast forward a few weeks and Persian Pho with Lamb Broth came to life!
This recipe was definitely not something that I just went into the kitchen and created. By stroke of luck I happened to listen to a Splendid Table podcast that was about Pho and found out that the most important element of a good Pho is the broth. I knew I had to do some homework on the subject matter. I did some pocking around the internet and I consulted my Vietnamese Home Cooking cookbook and much to my surprise I came across something that totally blew me away: cardamom is used in the making of the broth! Can Persianizing this dish be any easier??!!
I have to confess to you that I had a moment, a major foodie moment where I felt all peachy and fuzzy inside. I spent a long moment staring at the word cardamom. I would have never imagined that one of our main spices is also used in Asian cooking. I had no idea. The more I read about Pho the more intrigued I became with the dish. It’s one thing to eat a dish that you like, but it’s definitely something else to actually learn how much labor goes into making it flavorful.
First and foremost I had to come up with a good broth. The day that I made Abgoosht I ended up with two extra pieces of lamb neck. I knew exactly what I was going to do with those extra pieces, broth for my Persian Pho. And thus began the broth making process.
Recipe serves 2
2 lamb necks
3 celery stalks
4 garlic cloves
1 leek, white parts only
1 inch fresh ginger
2 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp whole pepper corns
5 cups lamb broth
1 inch fresh ginger
2 tbsp chopped tarreh (chives)
1 chopped green onion, white part only
2-4 tbsp chopped Persian basil
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Persian lime
1 Star Anise
6 oz Reshteh
salt & pepper
Wash lamb necks and place in a pot with 6 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Skim any foam that rises to the surface of the pot.
Chop vegetables and add to the pot.
Lightly crush cardamoms and add to the broth along with peppercorns. Cover and simmer gently on low for 4 hours.
Once the broth is done remove meat and strain broth. Squeeze veggies to get all the juices out. There should be about 5 cups of broth.
At this point this broth can either be stored or go directly back into the pot to make the Pho.
Enclose shallot and ginger in foil and roast at 400° for 20 minutes. Once done chop both and place in the broth.
Make a couple of holes in the Persian Lime and add to the pot. Lightly crush the cardamom and add along with the Star Anise to the pot. Add one cup of water and bring stock to a boil.
Add a generous amount of salt and a pinch of pepper to the broth and drop the reshteh in. Make sure that the noodles are submerged in the broth. Cover and cook on medium for half hour.
Have your topping ready for the Pho. I love the fact that Vietnamese cuisine uses a lot of fresh herbs like we do. One of the herbs that will blow you away in this dish is the Persian Basil. Sliced cooked meat can also be added to this Pho which has been cooked separately. I didn’t add any because the broth was so good that I just opted to top my Pho with fresh herbs.
Once the noodles are cooked divide the noodles and broth into two bowls minus the Persian lime, cardamom, and the Star Anise. Some like eating the Persian lime and some don’t, up to you who gets it!! Top Pho with all the fresh herbs and serve with a couple of wedges of lime or lemon.
If you are a lover of hot peppers in your Pho, then chop some fresh green or red hot pepper in yours like I did. I kinda went all out and had my Pho with chopsticks. As soon as I was done taking pictures of this bowl I picked it up and scarfed it down!!! I slurped shamelessly as Asians do, a major no no in our culture as it is considered rude, and enjoyed every ounce of itl!! I loved the complexity of the broth. It was rich in flavor thanks to the meat, veggies and spices. It had a hint of tartness from the Persian Lime. There was added sweetness from the roasted shallot and it smelled divine. Then the toppings were simply amazing!! I love the fresh lemony taste of the Persian Basil and it definitely kicks this soup up a notch!
This was definitely fun and I loved the whole learning and creative process that went into this dish. I hope you will make it and enjoy it as much as I did!!!
Thanks Stephanie for the inspiration!!!