~requisite shitty photo, yo.
The plague hit us late last week and hasn’t let up since.
If I were a nicer human, I’d take time to thank the heavens that only I got the hacking and barfing variety; the girls were just snotty and miserable. But any time I get the barf-o-ramas, I’m an ungracious shit. There will be no thank-you’s going anywhere. I’m still bitter.
I’m especially bitter because we were out of toilet paper (and milk, and fruit, and salad greens, and Diet Coke…you get the picture) while I was still feeling like a human ball of phlegm, so I had to shlep to the grocery store in my diseased state.
Bitter ladies do not belong in the grocery store. I was so foul and so gorked-out on Dayquil that I forgot that I was in public, in the produce aisle, and so I let loose with an expletive-laced tirade about an annoying song being piped through the Kroger sound system. I *may* have ordered a hit on the singer.
Luckily, there were very few patrons at the Kroger at 8:35 on a weekday morning. The girl with the nose ring in the Red Delicious apple section just laughed at me. Whew.
Note: only humans of the female persuasion came down with the plague. My darling husband never gets sick, that Tosser…although I guess I should be grateful, because someone’s gotta run this sinking ship. But then he had the audacity to leave town. He left me! That Tosser!
I was feeling mighty sorry for myself. I mean, not only did I have to weather the barfs, I had a fiery throat and a stuffy head riding shotgun. I was slamming cabinets and barking into the phone: “What?! Whaddaya Want?” Even Mozzy didn’t want to hang out with me.
Normally, when I get a cold, I hop in the car and get myself to the nearest decent Vietnamese joint for a steaming bowl of pho. Pho is my comfort food; I love the complexity of the spiced broth, the sleekness of the rice noodles, the meltingly rare slivers of beef, the bite of the mint and chile. It’s a KitchyWitchy hug in a bowl. And, when I’m nursing a cold, I add extra squirts of Sriracha to blast those nasal passages wide open. It’s the food equivalent of antibiotics. Or voodoo magic.
But, I was too germy to venture out. And it was snowing, dangit. I was trapped…without pho. Serious suckage.
What’s a snot-filled-girl to do? Emergency measures were in order. Somehow, I had to create faux pho.
Luckily, I had some homemade chicken stock in the freezer. This is usually not the case at my house (I’m no Ina Garten), but some higher power was looking out for me. I also had cinnamon sticks, star anise, ginger and garlic in the house. Yes! Benefit of being married to an Indian dude: I have crap in my pantry that I never would have thought to have on hand in a previous life.
I defrosted the stock, threw in a teaspoon of grated ginger and minced garlic, followed up with a star anise and a cinnamon stick, stuck the lid on the pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Now I think it wise to mention that the broth for genuine Vietnamese pho is a complex process and most likely takes days to make. But we’re talking desperation here. Plus, this is me, and I am lame and take shortcuts all the time.
Shortcut #2: I had a rotisserie chicken in my refrigerator (we slackers usually do). I shredded up the breast meat and set it aside to warm up. Hey, it’s not rare beef, but those in a soup emergency can’t fuss about details.
I boiled some rice noodles, stuck them in the bottom of a big bowl, added the chicken, a fistful of bean sprouts and sliced mushrooms, and some very thinly sliced onion, and ladled a huge amount of the broth over the whole shebang.
Luckily, I’d gone bonkers for a bunch of jalapenos a week earlier, so a rinse, a chop, and my soup was topped. I know other people will cry foul, but I added basil, too. I added a squeeze of lime and this was one happy girl.
I slurped, sweated, and sipped my way to bliss. I even forgot to be bitter. For about 20 minutes.
Faux Pho serves 2 generously
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon bottled grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
dash soy sauce
4 oz. thin rice noodles, cooked
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
very thin slices of onion
shredded carrots or sliced mushrooms
fresh mint, basil and/or cilantro
jalapeno, serrano or Thai bird chiles,
thinly sliced wedge of fresh lime
Combine first six ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Fish out the anise and cinnamon and discard.
Divide the noodles into two large bowls. Divide chicken, onion and bean sprouts among bowls. Top with hot broth, fresh herbs, chiles and a squeeze of lime.
**If you really want to blast the yuckies out of your system, load up heavily on the chiles and ginger. I was a fire-breathing dragon.