Feed: Faux Pho (cooking with kids)

(written for Family Spotlight magazine) 

Here are a few things about me as a mom: I’ve forgotten to buy milk twice in the same day. I’ve also forgotten practice times, birthday parties and orthodontist appointments.

I lose my keys and my temper every week. I give big hugs and sincere apologies.

On Fridays, I watch the clock pretty intensely, waiting for 6 p.m. to roll around so that I can pour myself a glass of wine. My eyes fill with tears regularly simply because I’m overwhelmed by how much I love my family.

My favorite things include impromptu kitchen dance parties, sloppy kid kisses and cake for breakfast. Sometimes it really bothers me that my kids are getting older. I realize that I can’t do anything about it but grow with them.

I know plenty of wise moms I rely on to help me with just about everything. One such friend advised that as soon as children prove that they can complete a task all on their own, never do it for them again.

I’ve been a mom long enough that I don’t put a lot of weight into the idea of "never," but I do plan to teach my kiddos how to make my Faux Pho (pronounced "fuh") recipe all by themselves. Then, as soon as they prove that they can make the aromatic, soul-nourishing, body-warming, bad-day-evaporating pho, I am going to have them make it for me as often as is reasonable. For starters, we’ll cook the soup together.

I call this a Faux Pho because it’s my attempt to re-create a soup we enjoy at a local restaurant. I’m pretty certain it varies greatly from authentic versions of the Vietnamese one-pot meal, but we’re big fans nonetheless.

Kids can wash vegetables, peel and grate carrots, and mix and form the meatballs. They can assemble the broth, too. I’ll do the work that requires knives. And we’ll all decide on what garnishes we want to make our bowls of our Faux Pho just right.


NOTE: Special thanks to my mother/son recipe testing pit crew, S.A.J.T. They tried it out so you can be sure it works : ) 

  • 1 pound ground pork or chicken thigh meat
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 green onions, cleaned and white portion thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper, freshly ground
Place all ingredients in medium-sized bowl. Combine using rubber spatula or your hands. Set aside until broth is prepared.


Wrap and tie in cheesecloth:
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 6 cups chicken broth (homemade is extra yum)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 8-ounce package dried rice noodles (available in international food aisle of grocery stores)

In large soup pot or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients before carrots and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low simmer and cook 30 minutes. Remove pot from heat and, using tongs, remove cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise.

Using 1-tablespoon ice cream scoop, form "meatballs," adding them directly to broth. Add grated carrots. Return to simmer and cook 15 minutes.

In separate pot, prepare rice noodles according to package instructions (usually 1 minute for thin noodles, 4 minutes for wide). Drain and rinse with cold water.

  • Bean sprouts, cleaned
  • Lime, cut in wedges
  • Cilantro leaves, given a rough chop
  • Mint leaves, given a rough chop
  • Green onions, diced
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Chili sauce such as Sriracha
Individualize each bowl for serving. Add noodles to bottom of bowl and cover with broth and meatballs. Garnish to taste.


Popular Posts