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Author Notes: 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.
Food52 Review: 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
For the mushroom and vegetable pho:
- 2 carrots
- 6 cups (1 1/2 liters) rich mushroom stock (see recipe below)
- 1 generous handful of baby spinach
- 1 splash rice wine vinegar
- 3 1/2 ounces (98 grams) Chinese noodles, prepared according to package directions
- 1/4 small head of savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
- Handful of fresh cilantro
- Handful of fresh mint leaves
- 1 Fresh red chili pepper, chopped fine (optional)
- Slow Roasted Crispy Mushrooms (see recipe below)
- Peel the carrots into ribbons. (Either store the cores in a container and use them to make the vegetable stock, or each them as-is.)
- Combine the stock, carrots, spinach, and rice wine vinegar in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
- Divide the cabbage and noodles amongst four deep soup bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls. Top with the herbs, chili pepper, and Crispy Mushrooms. Serve hot.
For the rich mushroom stock and slow-roasted crispy mushrooms:
- 1 1/2 pounds Crimini mushrooms, sliced thin and divided (use both the stems and caps)
- Olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- 6 carrots, cut into coins
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into quarters
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 8 cups (2 liters) water
- 4 dried bay leaves
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 2 to 3 splashes soy sauce
- To prepare the slow-roasted mushrooms: preheat the oven to 300º F. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
- Add 8 ounces (224 grams) of mushrooms to a medium bowl. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, just enough to coat the mushrooms. Season with salt, and toss well to mix. Spread them in a single layer onto the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, give the mushrooms a stir, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes more, until crisp. Let the mushrooms cool completely before using, or store the cooled mushrooms in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- To prepare the stock: place a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Swirl in just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining mushrooms, season with salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until deep, golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Add the onions, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits of mushroom. Cook until the onions begin to slightly soften, about 2 minutes. Give the mushrooms and onions a taste, and add more salt if necessary.
- Add the carrots and garlic, giving everything in the pot a good stir. Cook for 2 more minutes.
- Use a wooden spoon again to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Pour in the water, and add the herbs, and soy sauce. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the liquid has reduced by 1/3, roughly 35 to 40 minutes.
- Place a sieve, or fine meshed strainer, over a deep pot. Pour the stock through the sieve, to strain out the vegetables and herbs. The stock is now ready to use, or you can portion it into smaller containers for use later on. Store it in the fridge, covered, for up to one week, or the freezer for up to two months.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Noodles