My ‘Daikon Pho Ga’; Daikon Soup at Stir Moon (Coral Gables, FL) the only restaurant where I’ve encountered it in Miami.
SUNDAY MORNING I AWOKE TO A FAMILIAR SCENE. A narrow alleyway, wafting with columns of steam, where small women in matching top and bottom house clothes command fragrant vats of rich broth from mini plastic pastel perches.
It was playing out on TV this time, on Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam, a show on Cooking Channel where this Sydney chef/restaurateur returns to the country of his heritage to take a culinary journey through the northern regions of Vietnam.
Mornings beginning with Pho Bo were something to which I came to look forward last summer on a week-long visit to cousin Jonathan Hixon’s home in Ha Noi. The light, fragrant beef and pork bone broth becomes rich and layered with flavor from four to eight hours of cooking — eight meaning it hit the burner before bedtime.
Charred ginger and shallot, and toasted spices like anise, fennel seed, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg build layers of flavor.
I learned how to make Pho Bo (Bo means beef,) down to the skimming of impurities after making the broth and then assembling the payday in a large white bowl of rice noodles, shaved-paper-thin white onion and beef, and a mess of chopped herbs such as cilantro and mint. And, typical to where I enjoyed it, a generous sprinkle of ground black pepper and a squeeze of kalamansi juice.
I recently reconnected with daikon soup, another favorite of mine from my days in New York City and traditional to the north in Japan, and decided to see what would become of the long ivory tuber with the amazing depth of a Pho-style broth as poaching liquid and eventual soup base made hearty with pulled leftover roast chicken (‘ga’ in Vietnamese.)
‘Daikon Pho Ga’ did not disappoint, but I’ll be sticking with dinner on this one until I have a glass of chilled Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk sitting beside it!