I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I would have added ‘anymore’ but I don’t think I ever have. But I do like New Year’s traditions. Especially traditions that use up leftovers from Christmas and feel healthy and reviving. Doubly virtuous!
This is the second year in a row I’ve used the goose carcass as a base for a Pho, a french inspired Vietnamese broth/soup, which pretty much makes it a tradition now I suspect. As much of a tradition as the post Christmas pea and ham soup from leftover ham stock and leftover cheese, ham and potato pie. OK, so it’s not an authentic Pho, which generally uses beef and beef bones to give a base flavour for the broth but I get the feeling that Pho is one of those dishes that will be different wherever you go in Vietnam. As well as the amazing flavour (which is deeply aromatic and umami with a vibrant zing of lime juice) it’s the ritualistic nature of cooking and eating it that I enjoy. It makes you feel like you are consciously and intentionally doing something to improve your health and wellbeing after the excesses of Christmas. It’s not a silver bullet to general wellness but gently sets you off in the right direction. In the weeks after new year I’ve eaten five or six Pho’s and several cups of broth & I feel rejuvenated and less sluggish already.
Whilst the use of the goose is less traditional it still acts as a decent base for the rest of the Pho, especially as the Goose was roasted using Jamie Oliver’s goose rub spice mix which already contains many of the main flavour notes. Namely star anise, cloves, fennel, coriander and cinnamon. Some recipes use dried orange peel, so whilst on paper it sounds as christmassy as mince pies and mulled cider the end result is not so festive and feels like a perfect bridge between xmas and New Year.
The other key ingredients are ginger and onion and I think here is where the french influence on the Pho comes in (It’s not much of a leap from ‘feu’ as in ‘Pot au feu’ to Pho). Ginger and Onion are then charred for extra flavour (similar to the beginnings of French onion soup, also beefy and oniony). These are added to the liquid for added depth of flavour along with the spices and simmered for a couple of hours. It’s then ladled onto rice noodles, preferably flat ho fun or Pho noodles, and accompanied by a plate of garnishes (a full plate of restorative green herbs, vitamin loaded bean sprouts and fiery chilies – but feel free to experiment with garnishes, all part of the fun!). It’s these side elements and the intermittent addition of them, so as to not spoil their freshness and delicacy, that makes it feel so healthy, intentional and almost ritualistic.
2 litres water
2 litres of chicken stock/water
Thumb sized piece of Ginger
Two Large onion
16 star anise
1/2 teaspoon of cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
teaspoon coriander seeds
teaspoon fennel seeds
teaspoon black peppercorns
2 black cardamon pods
40g palm sugar/caster sugar
3 teaspoons of salt
4 table spoons of fish sauce.
Flat noodles like ho fun or Pho noodles
Thinly sliced leftover beef/Chicken/Goose
Any of the following:
Spring onion, chopped
Sawtooth (if you can get it)
Red Chillies, chopped
Make a stock. Roast the carcass at 180 for about 15-20 mins. Remove the bones and strain off any fat. Add them to a large stock pot (goose is a large old bird) and add a couple of litres of water. Bring to the boil then boil for ten mins and siphon off any scum that rises to the surface, reduce to a simmer and add an onion and let simmer for a few hours topping up with freshly boiled water as necessary.
After a few hours remove the bones. Cut a good thumb sized piece of ginger in two length ways then bash with a handle of a knife to crush a little. Slice a large onion into quarter but do not peel completely (leave a few remaining brown layers on the outside) then add to a roasting tray and roast in the oven at about 180 until you start to see some charring around the edges. Add to the goose stock along with 2 litres of water (or chicken stock) and the remaining ingredients. Simmer for two hours adding the your leftover cooked meat of choice twenty mins before the end. Place dry noodles in a bowl and pour on boiling water with a little salt and cover. Arrange you garnishes on a plate then drain your noodles. Place your noodles in a separate bowl and ladle over the broth. Tear and scatter some of your garnish and squeeze in a bit of lime juice. Consume until you’ve eaten your garnishes and then add some more. Eat until the gluttony of Christmas recedes from your thoughts. If only I could stop the children singing Christmas songs…
Pho recipe made with help from Uyen Luu’s My Vietnamese Kitchen