Pho Challenge

AKC#3: So how was your soup? It was PHOking good!

Posted by Alexander Hugh Sam | 02 April 2018 | Read Time: 4 min

Hey everyone! So yes, I forgot to post an update of my pho challenge, but do not worry, thanks to the Easter Bunny, I have extra time this weekend to produce some content, so at least one more blog will be up by the end of the week!

Anyhow, yesterday, gracieuset√© (no idea what is the English traduction for this, but it’s a nice way of saying thanks) to my friend Hai Ha, I was able to invite my close friends so that they can taste my pho and tell me if they liked it. The result? Well, I only asked one of my friends to give me a number (thanks for the 8/10, Kit), but almost everyone enjoyed and completed their meal, so overall I believe it’s a success!

Here is what my Pho looked like in the end:

Pho

Credits to JC for the pic.

What I did well

One thing I did really well this month, is that I prioritized my Pho. Multiple times, I was invited to go out with my friends, but I had to politely refuse stating that I had some Vietnamese soup to prepare! This was honestly a LOT harder than it looks because I am the type of person to just say yes to anything (my biggest weakness is that I have FOMO), but I am pretty proud of myself that I was able to put my Pho first!

The other thing I did well was that I was prepared. I pretty much planned my whole month right when March started and followed the plan almost to the letter (which VERY rarely happens) and I think this helped me a lot in completing this challenge.

Challenges

I already mentioned one challenge above and it was the fact that I was pretty much stuck at home during my Fridays and Saturdays since I had to dedicate most of my day to make sure the pho turned out good!

Another challenge I had was that I had a very hard time on how to improve my Pho. My guess is that my palate isn’t that well developed, so I’m not able to notice that well what is missing in my pho compared to my Mom’s or my grandparents. I’m also guessing that the more pho you make, then you probably get a hang of what is missing and what is not.

What I learned

I actually learned multiple things this month while learning how to cook pho!

The first one is that you HAVE to be patient. The more you are able to wait, the more your broth will soak in all the juices from the chicken and pork bones and the more your broth will taste good.

I’ve mentioned this multiple times already, but you have to be dedicated to making a good pho. I guess it kinda goes with being patient, but you really need to set some time aside and leave that time to prepare your pho. A good pho is going to take you AT THE VERY MINIMUM 3h in total, so make sure you don’t overbook your day whenever you are planning on preparing it.

Before this month, I actually had no idea on how to prepare Pho. I knew it took a while, but I never took the time to actually observe my Mom prepare it. In my head, preparing pho was this super difficult thing to do. But honestly, if you break it down into simple steps (kinda like I did through my Instagram stories), it becomes a lot easier and way less intimidating to complete. So I also learned that the best way to any problem is to always break them down into smaller pieces and solve the smaller pieces until every small piece is solved!

The last thing I learned was that I actually enjoy cooking. I find it super cool that by combining multiple ingredients together and following a few (or in this case a lot) of steps, you’re able to prepare amazing meals. Now I would say I’m definitely not GOOD at it, but the most important part is that I am IMPROVING and that I am much better at cooking than a month ago!

What would I do differently

To be honest, I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently this month. This is the first month, where I actually didn’t run into that many issues and those that I did run into (described above), I was either able to solve them or I don’t think I could’ve done something different to bypass it.

How much time/money I spent on this challenge

I would say I spent around 15h in total preparing Pho. It takes around 3h in total to prepare the Pho on the first day and around an hour the next day. I know the math doesn’t add up, but since I didn’t need to be there for the full 3h when I was just observing, I deducted that amount from the total number of hours.

In total, I believe I spent 45$ in total and that was to prepare 14 bowls in total!

Conclusion

I am SUPER happy with how this challenge went. If one year ago you would’ve told me that I would be able to cook Pho all by myself before the summer of 2018, I really wouldn’t have believed you. Not because it’s something that is super hard, but I am the type of person to not really learn something if I don’t really need it, and since I am still living with my Mom, well who needs to learn how to cook when you have a real cooking Mama!?? So yeah, super happy how this turned out and I’m excited for the next time I prepare Pho!

- Alex.

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