There’s so much I miss about my old Brooklyn neighborhood, but the fresh air, forests, and snow-filled landscape of my new home nestled in the Catskill mountains have had a very calming and healing effect on my family. Still, my taste buds long for some of my favorites foods, one of them being the mushroom pho served at Nightingale 9 in Carroll Gardens. On busy afternoons, I’d find myself sitting at the counter, hurriedly slurping down a bowl of it before running across the street to pick up the kids from school.
The only way to satisfy the craving now is to make it myself, working solely from memory of my many lunches there. I originally put off making this for a while because I knew the individual components would be an exercise in patience: The broth needs time for the flavors to simmer and the crispy mushrooms add an important taste and texture to the soup -- and I knew the only way to recreate them would be a slow roast in the oven. The great thing, though, is that both the stock and the mushrooms can be prepared up to one week in advance, and stored in the fridge (the stock will keep up to two months in the freezer). Once that's done, you can pull all the ingredients together, and enjoy a hearty bowl of pho in less than 30 minutes.
As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew that I wanted to try it. The mushroom broth is deep, rich, and flavorful. The crispy roasted mushrooms were a revelation, and I wish I had made more. Putting the pho together I wondered, where is the ginger, coriander, cinnamon, and star anise -- spices I love in pho. I needn't have worried. The final dish came together beautifully, and with the fresh herbs and chile (I used chile flakes at the table), it was complex and really flavorful. I added some frozen edamame for a little protein. I'll definitely make this again. —drbabs