2 tablespoons garlic, roughly chopped
3 quarts of water
4 whole star anise
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon five-spice powder (preferably Vietnamese style)
1/2 cup tamari
To finish the pho:
3 8-ounce packages of medium-wide rice noodles (dipped in boiling water for 5 seconds, then drained and rinsed under cold water)
1 pound roasted maitake or shiitake mushrooms (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 pound fresh Asian greens (baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, or spinach) chopped.
1 bunch of cilantro
1/2 bunch of scallions, green part only, sliced thinly on a diagonal
1/2 pound bean sprouts
Sriracha, to taste (about 1 teaspoon per serving)
1. Put a large stock pot on high and heat the sesame oil until almost smoking. Add the onion, ginger, and mushroom trimmings. Brown for aproximately 3 to 5 minutes, then add the rice wine vinegar. When the rice wine evaporates, add the water and the remaining ingredients. Simmer on medium-low for about 45 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half (yielding 48 ounces, or 1½ quarts). Strain.
2. To finish: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Clean the mushrooms by brushing away any visible dirt. If using shiitakes, remove the stem and slice the caps into 1/2-inch-thick slices. If using maitakes, cut away about 2 to 3 inches of the base and break apart the mushroom into small, manageable chunks (easy to grab with chopsticks).
3. In a mixing bowl, toss the mushrooms with the sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Place the mushrooms on a roasting tray and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until they have wilted and browned.
4. In 6 large soup bowls, divide the chopped greens and pre-blanched noodles evenly.
5. Bring the pho broth to a boil and then pour equal amounts over the noodles.
6. Garnish each bowl with the evenly divided mushrooms.
7. On a side plate arrange the bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, and small ramekin of sriracha. (With the exception of the sriracha, these other ingredients can be added right to the top of the pho if you prefer.)
8. Serve immediately.
From Rich Landau at Vedge
Per serving: 344 calories, 11 grams protein, 56 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams sugar, 10 grams fat, no cholesterol, 2,116 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber