Away we pho after the fast

By Simon Round, September 9, 2013
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Everyone has a different way of breaking the fast. Some like a cup of tea and a biscuit, others go for the traditional herring. A few brave souls end the fast with a shot of whisky. I can vouch for the fact that this makes you feel wonderful for about five minutes and then rather peculiar shortly afterwards.

Helping you plan ahead I have thought long and hard about what to suggest for this crucial meal before the obvious idea struck me — we should all break the fast with pho of course.

You may be unfamiliar with pho. For the uninitiated, this is Vietnam’s national dish and what all Vietnamese Jews break the fast with (or at least if there are any Vietnamese Jews this is what they should break the fast with).

Basically pho is Jewish penicillin south-east Asian style and it fits the bill perfectly. After 25 hours or so without any food or drink, your body is craving fluids to hydrate it, a little low fat protein and plenty of carbohydrate in an easily digestible form. Plus, your taste buds, having been starved of stimulation all day probably want something with a bit of a zing.

Pho delivers on all fronts — it’s as comforting as our chicken soup but offers a little more in freshness and flavour. For four people you will need six chicken thighs. Throw them in a big pot with a thumb-sized piece of root ginger, a piece of lemongrass and three garlic cloves. Bring to the boil and skim off any impurities before adding a cinammon stick, a star anise and a chicken stock cube. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

Then all you need to do is fish out the chicken and set it aside — and throw out the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and spices. Bring the broth back to the boil and add either lockshen or rice noodles, depending on what you have in the cupboard, and add a good splash of light soy sauce. Remove the skin and bone and shred the chicken before reintroducing it into the pot. Three or four minutes later you have a steaming bowl of pho which you should garnish Vietnamese-style with mint, coriander and basil (or any combination of the three), a little chopped green chilli, a squeeze of lime juice, a few beansprouts and some chopped spring onions.

I think your guests will love it. But let’s face it, even if they don’t, after the fast they are still likely to empty the bowl and come back for more.

Last updated: 10:45am, September 9 2013