Making pho broth is not as intimidating as you think. You throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot, let it make magic for a couple of hours, and voila - you've got pho broth! If I can't convince you of how painless it is, the latest issue of Lucky Peach might be able to. Part of the reason for starting this blog was to help make Asian food more approachable to everyone. This recipe might not be your Vietnamese grandmom's, but it does the trick. We add Japanese kombu as an umami booster rather than MSG.
This recipe requires a shoutout to our friend Mat who introduced us to it. He made it for us one day and while it seemed like a large production the first few times we tried it, it became much easier once we got used to it and started treating the recipe more liberally. Don't have pork? Use whatever leftover meat/ tofu/ root vegetables are in the fridge. No vermicelli? Sub in some rice. Beansprouts always rot in the fridge so you don't know how anyone ever uses them in time? Skip them. There are two ingredients though that are absolutely necessary: pickled vegetables (traditionally carrots and daikons) and nuoc cham, a vietnamese "dressing" of lime, sugar, fish sauce, water and (optionally) garlic and bird's eye chilies. This dish is perfect for a warm summer day, since it's served with cold vermicelli noodles, raw vegetables and plenty of spice.