You know how when you’re super busy and doing somewhat monotonous tasks all day you get all heady and self-reflective and become that special brand of emo usually reserved for the 14 year-old inside of you that just discovered Elliot Smith? Well, today at work was like that. We were totally slammed from the moment I walked in, and although my hands were frantically at work and out loud I was barking out orders like a total maniac, inside I was all “waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh… WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE!?” I couldn’t shake that feeling of total stuck-where-I-am-edness, and all that was running through my head for a solid hour or so was an exchange my mother and I had last time I visited. We were at the mall and I was groping all the beautiful clothes at Ann Taylor and my mom was like, “you’d look so good if you just dressed up like this mannequin here!” And I was all, “dude, I know. But I’m a filthy cook, it’s just not practical.” She kept mentioning that certain outfits would be great for my “profession,” which, theoretically I guess is a photographer, but honestly hasn’t made me any money in a solid six months or so. I shook off a feeling of inadequacy because of how I DO make money… but outside the store I proclaimed I JUST CAN’T WAIT TIL I’M RICH AND CAN BUY ALL THESE CLOTHES. And my mom was like, “well you’d better get going on your entrepreneurial spirit that your father and I raised you with!”
Boooo. Hooooo. She’s right. I hate that. Because I’ve got ideas and I’ve got things I’d rather be doing! I’d kill to get the chance to work from home and make money from photography or freelance writing or illustration or whatever it is that I technically own a business for… but man! How are you supposed to start that?! Don’t quit your day job,” is the old motto, but if you don’t how do you make the time? As it is my only solace some days is the food I cook for myself when I’ve exhausted myself already from cooking for strangers. So on days like today, when you’ve begrudgingly accepted to have your work-week extended because you’re temporarily understaffed, when your other job forces you to clean houses on your “day off,” when you feel like your psyche has been assaulted with a lead rolling pin, then, well…
then you turn to crack cocaine.
HA. HA. JUST KIDDING. No, crack is far too expensive. Homemade pho is so much cheaper. And waaaaay easier to procure. Trust me.
Here’s a recipe. Except, head’s up, this really isn’t pho at all. One time I found some sort of pho-ish recipe on the back of a Thai Kitchen rice noodles box and followed it. It was awesome. These days I opt for the cheap as all hell rice noodles from the Asian market and have been forced to improvise the recipe from memory. So, here’s what you get. It tastes all sorts of good.
PHUN SOUP (see what I did there!?)
1.5 cups of chopped baby bok choy
1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1 Tb fish sauce
1.5 cups of cooked shrimp (biggish, preferably)
2 Tb Sriracha chili garlic sauce
1 finely chopped spicy chili pepper
3 cups veggie stock
2 Tb soy sauce
Two handfuls of rice noodles (I have no idea how to measure this. I accidentally made approximately a million times too much last time, but that’s okay because it costs about a nickel)
Cut limes and cilantro for garnish
Bring a pot of water to boil and drop in the noodles, but they cook pretty instantaneously so test them immediately and drain when they’re soft (if you use the ultra thin ones like I do, it takes literally ten seconds or less). Divide the noodles evenly between two or three bowls, considering how hungry you/your greedy guests are. Save a little of the noodle water in the pot (a cup or so) and add the veggie stock and soy sauce. When the liquid is simmering, drop in everything else and simmer it all for about 7-10 minutes, just until the mushrooms are softish. Divide it all up between the bowls and you’re done. Don’t forget to garnish with limes and cilantro! IT’S IDIOT-PROOF. Probably. But not emo-kid proof… I do admit that I totally burst into tears about three bites into the soup. Look, maybe it had to do with the fact that my camera batteries had just died and I couldn’t photograph the meal, maybe it was because I was in the temporary throes of an existential dilemma, or maybe it was because I’m a big, dumb baby. Regardless, I can assure you that it had nothing to do with the taste. The taste was divine. Try it!