Read this cookbook: “The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles” by Andrea Nguyen (Ten Speed Press, $22)
By Wendell Brock
One of the great soups of the world, Vietnam’s pho has been a Buford Highway staple for years now. Any serious Atlanta noodle lover can tell you exactly where to go for a quick pho fix, and argue endlessly over which cut of beef is best for finishing a steaming bowl of aromatic broth and rice noodles.
Twenty years ago, I remember observing my former AJC colleague John Kessler chat up a Buford Highway pho-shop proprietor on the finer details of herb garnishes. I can still see this funny Vietnamese guy making a zigzag motion with his fingers to describe how the culantro leaf differs from the more common cilantro.
This brings us to Vietnam-born Andrea Nguyen’s “The Pho Cookbook,” a handy volume for those wanting to bring pho off the street and into the kitchen.
As Nguyen writes in the introduction, the Vietnamese regard pho in romantic terms: an object of desire that can be dutiful like a wife, or flirty like a mistress.
Those seeking a quick weeknight pho fling might start with a recipe calling for packaged broth, then commit to a more long-term, four-to-five hour project involving beef bones, stock pots and patience.
Nguyen teaches you how to make pho with lamb, seafood and rotisserie chicken. She gives recipes for adventurous dishes like Chicken Pho Noodle Salad, Pho Fried Rice and Chicken and Pho Fat Rice; plus stir-fried, pan-fried and deep-fried pho.
If you want to make hoisin sauce from scratch, Vietnamese coffee, even a pho Michelada, this book is great to have around the house — especially on damp winter nights when you crave a piping hot bowl of pho but don’t feel like leaving home.
Wendell Brock is an Atlanta food and culture writer, frequent AJC contributor and the winner of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for journalism. Follow him on Twitter (@MrBrock) and Instagram (@WendellDavidBrock).