Thursday, 24 February 2011

The flood Effects

Since late November I have been in constant emotional “transit”: my trip to the US, Xmas at Kingscliff, New Year at Bundilla. These are topics intended for the next posts among other works "in progress".

When I was still trying to catch up with myself, this flood crisis happened.
However, I live outside the flood zone, I only experienced very little of this calamity. Watching the news, I felt like an outsider, which was a bit depressing. I rang all my friends who were all safe and need no help. Then a text message  arrived: “Join the after flood cleaning up party in Chelmer. BYO everything including food & water. No fuel, supermarkets shelves empty!.”
I thought the best I could help was to cook some tasty food besides just cleaning.

Fortunately before the crisis I did a big shopping in Darra so I have almost all essential ingredients: a variety of minces, pork belly, a couple of “bicycled chicken” (a small roaster under 1kg in weight), tofu, egg plants, sweet potatoes, carrots, red brown and green onions, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and some Asian greens. The rest of the ingredients came from my garden, where the wild pepper plant has gone completely wild; their perfect glossy green leaves reaching out from the large pot resembled a Buddha with thousand arms, Vietnamese mint took over the herb garden and the chili bush was full of red chilies. 

Bags of food including beef in wild pepper leaves, dumplings, mung bean dahl, egg plant and tofu and soba noodle were ready when I was picked up to go to Chelmer.

All the major roads leading to the flood area were clogged up with traffic, it is practically bumper-to-bumper all the way to Chelmer. It took us nearly two hours to make a 20 minutes journey normally.

The muddy roads reminded me of the rice field ploughed up after the moon-also  soon season in Vietnam. The water-mark left on the trees and the houses showing the flood level and to remind us of the power of nature, underneath this level, everything was covered in the uniform colour of dark brown grey, including all once-treasured household items, now in a pile on the pavements.

On site, the workers all covered in mud, busily hosing down mud from everything. They had been working since dawn so they were all ready for refueling. 
Everybody enjoyed a moment of rest and they all appreciated the special treat from a "well known chef!"

This is roughly how to make the wild pepper leaves wraps:
Marinade thin sliced or minced beef {or chicken or tofu) with finely chopped garlic, lemon grass, chili, pepper, seasoned with fish or soy sauce to taste, the usually proportion for meat and fish sauce is 50mls of fish sauce to 500g of meat (or 1 teaspoon of good sea salt) and oil. Wrap a table spoon full of mince in wild pepper leaves. Then grill. Dip in dipping sauce of preference.

For the mung bean dahl, I combined THE DRIED SPICES garam masala, turmeric, cumin, Fennel, cardamon pod with garlic, ginger, brown onion and a curry paste I use Vindaloo for its vinegary taste. I use salt for seasoning and olive oil. Coconut cream added.

The egg plant and tofu also has belly pork pieces and tomatoes flavoured with Turmeric and perilla (shisho ,tia to). The pork belly gives this dish a special richness. (I use soba noodle instead of pasta because it is easier to handle and not too heavy on your belly.) 
I used bought wonton wrappers for the dumplings  . Filled with finely mince prawn and pork with shiitake mushroom black fungus and finely chopped green bean and coriander. I boiled and washed the dumplings to make them prettier. They can be used as they are with dipping sauce or they can be used as part of the “floating cloud” soup  (short and long soup) with Asian green.
Dumplings ready to be boiled    

After lunch clean up, I tried to sweep off mud and water from the kitchen lounge area,it was continuing being muddy as people walking through non stop. I felt like a tiny beach crab trying to move the sand.

On the second day I brought along a pork and sweet potatoes curry, a green lentil dahl and black rice (I did not have any white rice and I thought it could be an interesting change). We arranged the food on the table and today they even had little stools to sit down for lunch. I quickly went through with the workers about the food; the pork curry was quite sweet with sweet potatoes and coconut juice. There was no coconut milk in either the pork or the dahl. I had run out of coconut cream.

I washed all the crockery and kitchen things and felt a bit more useful than yesterday.

We were not allowed in the flooded area on Sunday,so it was rest day for me, but while having a cup of tea with the boys, the "Colonel" rang and asked me to come and help with the damaged paper and photographs, which she kept in her freezer at home. 
There we hang up some documents relating to the house and separated the wet photos.
I took the rest of the photos home and had a big photo laundry session late into the night. The next day we continued with the rest of the documents rescuing at Raquel’s.
     It was a strange feeling looking at personal papers and photos of others, even though we know our friends but not all the intimate details of their lives as they were displayed in these water soaked documents and images. 
I had the feeling of a voyeur!

More photographs to be cleaned. 

Soon I have to go back to my own reality: catching up with myself!

Lien Yeomans Gourmet Sauces and Marinades

Sauces in 250ml Bottles
The products are made from recipes used in my food for a long time.
 They are made mostly from local, organic ingredients, some directly from my garden. 

The common ingredients used are garlic, chillies, rice vinegar, palm sugar, fish sauce and salt.

There are NO preservatives, NO artificial colours or flavour enhancers and NO peanuts in any of the products.
These sauces are Gluten Free.   

Roasted Sweet Chilli Sauce with lemon Myrtle:
Description: Local Organic chillies, seeded, roasted cooked in palm sugar, rice wine vinegar and fish sauce heavenly flavoured with garlic, galangal, ginger, lemon grass, coriander and Australian lemon myrtle (Backhousia citrodoria).
Usage: This roasted sweet chilli sauce is versatile in usage. It gives extra dimension to any dishes - in soups, stir fries, steamed and slow cooked dishes. Universal appeal.
Shelf-life: Long lasting sauce. Refrigerated after opened

Roasted Chillies sauce:
Description: Pure roasted seeded chillies, with salt & rice vinegar, blended into a smooth creamy sauce. It contains no sugar, and no colour or flavour enhancer.
Usage: Can be used in any sauces or marinates recipes required hot chillies flavour. A great dipping sauce or non-oil salad dressing. 
Shelf life: Long lasting sauce. Refrigerated after opened

Special Viet sauce:
Description: A special sauce for dipping and dressing. Made with roasted seeded chillies with garlic, sugar syrup vinegar and lime leaves.
Can be used as dipping sauce for finger food, especially fried food or for dressing Asian style salad such as green papaya, pomelo, green mango etc.  Also excellent for pouring over Vietnamese noodle dishes like Bun bo Nam Bo, Bun Cha.
Shelf Life: Long lasting sauce. Refrigerated after opened.

Special yellow bean sauce
Description: Versatile sauce for vegetarian cuisine, made with Virgin olive oil, ginger, leek, chillies, salted yellow soy bean, plum sauce and tamarind paste.
Usage: The classic dipping sauce for Vietnamese Goi Cuon Tom Thit (fresh rice paper roll with prawn and pork). Free of any animal products and a great accompaniment for many vegetarian dishes such as vegetable stir fries and fried or fresh tofu.
Shelf life : Last a few months in refrigerator.
(Can be diluted with boiling water if in the event that sauce thickens in the fridge.)

Turmeric Marinating sauce
Description: A magic marinating sauce. Made with fresh local products: turmeric, galangal, dill, golden shallot, pepper in rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, and fine shrimp paste. 
Usage: This is the marinating sauce for the famous dish - Cha Ca La Vong of Hanoi (Hanoi Turmeric fish). It can be used with any other seafood, meat and vegetables.
Shelf Life:  Reasonable long lasting sauce. Store in refrigerator.

Lemon myrtle marinating sauce
Description: An ideal marinating sauce made with Australian native lemon myrtle (Backhousia citrodoria), garlic, chilli, red shallot & white pepper.
Usage: This is the sauce which used in the Grilled Lemon myrtle prawns feature in SBS Food lovers Guide in 1997. It can be used for marinating meat, poultry, tofu etc for grilling or barbecuing.
Shelf Life: Reasonable long lasting sauce. Store in refrigerator.

Fresh herbs and other fresh condiments in Vietnamese Food: Cultural ramblings

Vietnamese food without fresh herbs and fresh condiments is not Vietnamese food.
It does sound a bit fanatical. But it is true.
When I first came to Sydney in early 60s my herbs and fresh condiments supply were very limited. I depended on the Mediterranean grocers for garlic, mint, basil (bush or sweet not the cinnamon basil) and dill. I tried to grow coriander from coriander seeds very unsuccessfully.  Ginger and green shallot were available from China town. I had to be contented with dried galangal and turmeric powder. My English teacher provided me with his bush lemon leaves. But thanks to the wave of Vietnamese arriving after 1975, Vietnamese greens and fresh herbs supplies have improved a thousand fold.  

A selection of greens at a grocery in Inala, 
Fresh herbs add extra dimension to the food, they can also be used to balance the ingredients in a dish, which make Vietnamese food healthy, rich and clean. 

At any Vietnamese table, the centre pieces are the big bowl of fresh greens, they could be lettuces, young mustard greens, mango, fig or any edible young leaves and fresh mixed herbs which could be any of the following herbs in season:
Coriander, spiky coriander (eryngo), red Parilla, green Parilla, paddy field herb, cinnamon basil, mint, Vietnamese mint, sorrel (la chua), and chrysanthemum etc.

In Southern Vietnam the “fish mint” is very popular, it is said to help to improve vision.  In the North we do not use this herb often except to eat with the boiled half hatched duck eggs. Other fresh spices are green shallot, purple shallot, onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric, galangal, tamarind pods and leaves, lemon or lime leaves etc. 

There are more than ten medicinal herbs and greens, such as the young tips of lemon, guava, fig, furry apricot trees are required for raw fish and different games meat including dog meat dishes. Most of these greens and herbs are used to kill any bacteria  or other harmful microorganisms thriving in the games meat. The photos below are of some available herbs in Australia today, many serve both medicinal and culinary purposes. 

Chinese chive
Soft lettuce 

Each herb and green as well as other individual food ingredient has its own temperament, either hot, cold or neutral and to know how to combine these ingredients properly to keep the body balance;to me, that is the key to a healthy life.

My first lesson in the proper use of ingredients is the following verse:

“Con ga cuc tac la chanh (the chook calls out for lemon leaves)
Con lon un in mua hanh cho toi (the pig asks for shallots)
Con cho khoc dung khoc ngoi (The dog cries out)
Ba oi di cho mua toi dong gieng” (please buy me some galangal) 

Vietnamese mint 'Rau ram'
Normal mint
Fish mint 'Rau dap'

After a couple of years working with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries I add a few more Australian native plants to my cooking repertoireIn my garden besides galangal, turmeric, ginger, Vietnamese mint, mint, cinnamon basil, lemon grass, I also have lemon myrtle, cinnamon myrtle and curry myrtle, finger lime, nasturtium, Japanese yuzu,  curry tree, parsley, oregano, sorrel, thyme, sage, tarragon, rosemary and a large bay tree.

'Hanh La' green shallot
'Rau Mui' Coriander
'Tia to' Perilla 
It is a pleasure to pick what I need directly from my garden.
Emmie Willis, a science graduate who actually taught me blogging, approves of the idea of eating from the garden, she makes jewellery and with every piece of her work she presents it in a small pot and a packet of seed to encourage people to grow their own edible plants.

There is more hope for the environment and human health with this future generation.

Memories of Taste: The tale of two restaurants

Contemporary Overseas Vietnamese food in Brisbane, Australia.

Simply Duo, Nundah

On my friend Jeremy”s birthday we went to Simply Duo in Nundah for dinner. It was very exciting for us to see Thang, my old Green Papaya head chef and his wife Thanh who are chefs/ owners of this new popular North side ethnic restaurant.
Jeremy was so happy to get a parking spot right outside “Simply Duo”.
The dining room was buzzing and it reminded us of eating places in Hanoi. We both went there in April 2009 to see the Regurgitator played at the Hanoi American Club.
Simply Duo’s small dining room has the counter at the far end with simple soft drink display units. Behind the counter is the small kitchen where Thang cooks Vietnamese food  from Wednesday to Saturday nights. The dining room is basic with small movable tables and modern plywood chairs. The wall colour is of a light greyish colour with funny light fittings. There are a mish-mash of pictures on the wall. The diners were mainly youngish, noisy and happy. They were all in groups!
Thanh welcomed us with warm hugs. She felt like a small child in my embrace. Thanh has single- handed started her daytime only Café a few years back for breakfast and lunch.  She buit up her customer base quickly due to her open matter of fact and humane manner. She is the perfect Vietnamese wife for Thang. In Vietnamese we say “Vo dam”. 
The small menu contained all the old Green Papaya favourites: prawn and pork roll with yellow bean sauce; crispy vegetarian roll with a choice of 3 house-made sauces; green papaya salad, mung bean vermicelli & crab meat, cubed beef steak, chicken chilli with red cabbage, and all the desserts. I felt contented because I knew Thang did learn something from me despise his phlegmatic attitude when he was my head chef.
We ordered Hanoi coffee while looking at the menu. Thanh could save money on condensed milk -  the coffee was super sweet.
Due to my pho obsession as well as secretly wanted to compare Thang’s stock to mine, we decided on Spring rolls, normal pho and spicy pho, and hoping we could fit in some other dishes after, but we were both full and had a quick walk about before desserts of black rice and crème caramel.
The spring rolls were traditional -  long and round - but cut diagonally lengthwise, nicely plated on a long plate with oak lettuces but no fresh herbs or pickles. The rolls were dusted with flour before frying to keep them crisp. The three home made sauces were yellow bean sauce, the clear dipping sauce and hoisin sauce slightly diluted with vinegar. I ended up just using the dipping sauce. All the sauces were on the salty side. 
The condiments with the pho were chilli sauce lemon wedges and extra fish sauce for both pho, the stock is sweet but lacked the depth of the typical pho stock. Spicy pho could be a short cut to Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Boodle soup) , with ground red chilli. Thang was still over generous with noodles, I managed to eat 2/3 of mine. The crème caramel was good, Thanh has been making this dessert for a few years now, the black rice was to my taste also on the sweet side and not well cooked. Both were plated with fresh strawberry slices with icing sugar sprinkled on the rim of the plates.
I looked over the other tables and recognised some old Green Papaya dishes, I am glad that my style of food is being kept alive at Simply Duo, where imagination can take you to a modest Vietnamese restaurant in Hanoi and of course with much cleaner and tastier food.
However, always remember that taste is very personal and mostly a good front of house can make or break a restaurant.

Red Lotus, Fortitude Valley

After 3 days lugging books and junks from upstairs to downstairs, we rewarded ourselves with a dinner out. My friend told me to try out the “Red Lotus” -  a newly opened Vietnamese Restaurant in the Valley. He read a glorious review. So we booked for 7.30pm.
We arrived a bit before 7.30.  The restaurant is in the Mall; it is big, bright and brand new. Red is the dominant colour. We walked thru the front door, it was like walking into another world, soft light accentuated by bright red lights showing off large painted earthenware pots with decoration dividing the dining room into two sections. The large bar is to one side of the dining rooms. Our table was behind the dividing decoration, the main theme is of Lotus - of course.  Against the walls are lounge chairs upholstered in bright floral plastic/cotton fabric. They look comfortable and make the dining room more in tune with modern trend in food industry.
The third dining is in the area connecting between kitchen and front of house.
We spent over 20 minutes studying the atmosphere, the other diners, who were mostly young of multi racial mix, noisy and all in waiting. We studied the food menu and drink menu, but not one staff could be seen to gain more information on the menu and looking at the faces of the diners at next table, we thought it would be easier and faster if we order the Ha long set menu, which had fresh rice paper rolls with prawn and pork, grilled mussels with pork mince, steamed rice vermicelli noodles with sugar cane prawns, campfire beef, combination steamboat, caramelised pork ribs cooked in clay pot, steamed 
jasmine rice and banana fritters with vanilla ice cream.
After a long wait, someone came to take our order.
Another long wait, 3 chubby rolls on a plate were plonked on the table without a word. I managed to get the attention from another FOH and enquired about the sauce. He looked puzzled and came back with a cup of fish sauce diluted with vinegar!!! My friend said but what about the bean sauce?
The grilled mussel & pork mince also came without any dipping sauce, and all I could taste was pork and shiitake mushroom. Very average, but It is at least an effort of a new dish. I think this is a version of the famous steamed snail with ginger leaves in VN.
Another wait, the campfire beef arrived. It is intriguing. A white soup bowl with slices of beef covered with slices of red onions and tomatoes and cubes of butter, sitting on top of a deep pasta plate with 1cm of methylates spirit. It was lighted and we were told it would take 4 minutes to heat up. The beef slices were packed in solidly, it was an effort to loosen them up so they could be cooked evenly, the flame was so high that the side of the white bowl was burnt to black by the time the beef was ready. The dish was accompanied by a plate of rice vermicelli, oak lettuce, a few tired mint sprigs, a few pieces fancy cut rounds of carrot and daikon, a bowl of dipping sauce with a few shredded carrot, and a plate of rice papers and a bowl of water. We were to make a rice paper rolls with the cooked beef and all the condiments. Another version of grilled beef “bo nuong vi”.
The third dish came in the same scenario: noodle lettuce and  rice paper, same sauce and instead of beef it was prawn on sugar cane. The prawn mixture dominant taste was of  pork paste.
We were getting bored with the rice paper and rice vermicelli routine by then and looking forward to the main courses, however the steamboat was ordinary and the pork ribs was super salty, both were served with steamed rice!  We thought the banana fritters would be the night saver, after another wait - 3 cups of ice cream top with a single tinned litchi arrived; we did not get any explanation about the alternative dessert. So we gave up and paid the bill. At the counter I found out the part owner was Australian born Vietnamese who speaks funny overseas Vietnamese and the absent owner has no previous food industry experience.
So, not much can be said about this new restaurant except that it is not worth even mentioning it to anybody.

Cha Ca La Vong (La Vong Street Grilled Fish): cultural rambling #2

Lien’s  Cha Ca La Vong on one plate at 

Simpatico Restaurant Paddington 
Brisbane Special dinner May 2010
Besides pho, Hanoi is also famous for another iconic dish, “Cha Ca La Vong” (La Vong street grilled fish) served with rice vermicelli and a host of special condiments.    
The rumour about the secret ingredient of this dish was “dog fat”! But no one really knows the truth, saved for the inventor of this amazing dish.
Originally small branches of the Red River run close to the streets of Hanoi old quarter and people used to catch the special “ca lang”, “ca anh vu” fishes to grill and then dipped them in shrimp paste to eat. 
 Eventually the enterprise Doan family turned this simple fish dish into the iconic cha ca La Vong as  we know today.
Behind this dish are a romantic love story and a fragment of the Vietnamese struggle history against the French colonalisation.  
A group of Vietnamese nationalists used to meet at Mr Doan house at Hang Son Street (Paint street) to plot and plan against the French. Eventually, the secret meeting place was discovered, Mr Doan was arrested and imprisoned. He befriended the jailer and offered him accommodation in his family home in Hanoi when the jailer went there for new supplies. In return for this favour, the jailer allowed Mr Doan’s wife to spend time with her husband in his cell. As a result they had a daughter.
Mr Doan was eventually released from prison. On the occasion of the Mid Autumn Children’s Festival, he took his daughter out shopping for toys and she chose the statue of La Vong, the God of fishermen. The statue was displayed in front of their shop and since then his shop was known as Cha ca La Vong. After over a hundred years the Doan family still operates “Cha Ca La Vong”. And since this dish has become so popular that the street is now changed to Cha ca Street.
Lang” fish or “Anh Vu” fish from the Red River were best during the winter, and they were the most suitable for grilling due to their high content of fat. The fish was filleted and cut into bite size and marinated in galangal, turmeric and lemon juice with fine shrimp paste, fish sauce, pepper, dill and perhaps “dog” fat; then lightly grilled over charcoal fire in bamboo skewers. 
On the table, the accompanying ingredients are already arranged including mixed fresh herbs, rice vermicelli, vinegared onion slices, split green shallot, shrimp paste sauce flavoured with “ca cuong” essence (extracted from flat winged beetle ”Ca Cuong”). When the customers sit down, roasted peanuts and rice wine are brought to the table with a portable charcoal stove with skewers of grilled fish and a small frying pan for the customers to refrying the fish with extra  dill and shallot as they savour the dish one bite at a time.
This dish is best eaten in winter leisurely over lengthy conversation on any topics of the time. The roasted peanuts and the rice wine are used to prevent fishy breath.
As it spread beyond Hanoi, “Cha Ca La Vong” has taken on many variations, sometimes it is hard to believe it is the same dish.
As for the “Lang” and “Anh Vu” fishes, they are now almost disappeared from the fish market. Both are on the red alert list.
The fish used for this now could be any kind of fishes, in Vietnam it is common to use mudfish (ca loc or ca qua).  In Australia I choose the rock ling or pink ling for their firm flesh, they can withstand the marinating and grilling or frying without falling apart.
At my old restaurant, we did not have exhaust canopy over each table so we could not cook at the table; I also knew that if I served the shrimp paste sauce separately some customers would not use it,  and for this dish if you left out any accompanying condiments it would not taste the same. So I serve everything on one plate including shrimp paste sauce with ca cuong essence. In the 90s, I got my cousin in Hanoi to supply the restaurant with the genuine “ca cuong” essence, but since this precious insect was put on the red alert list, I had to resource to the artificial  “mangdana” essence made in Thailand!   
I was not surprised when my customers returning from Hanoi to announce that my Cha ca was better. I knew that they did not eat it with all the condiments provided (foreigners usually avoid eating uncooked greens)  and also I knew that they would prefer the alternative dipping sauce offered and avoid the shrimp paste sauce. 
Ca cuong is so rare now that the restaurants in Hanoi only use it if the customers agree to pay extra.
I can’t imagine cha ca without these two essentials.

The Story of Pho Hanoi- cultural ramblings

Pho Hanoi should be served in a ceramic bowl, porcelain spoon and bamboo chopsticks. Condiments are chili sauce, fresh cut red hot chilies, extra quality fish sauce, mint, coriander & lime. Any other condiments will spoil the clean rich taste of the beef stock. Below are photos of Pho from my home kitchen.

Every Vietnamese person thinks they are the connoisseurs of this iconic dish and they all have their own version of what is the perfect pho.
The origin of this dish is as illusive as the ingredients for its stock!
Sometimes during the last few hundred years the Cantonese dish ‘stewed beef noodle soup’ (nguu nhuc phan) found its way to Vietnam and metamorphosed into this unique dish: Pho Hanoi. Since then it has been spread far and wide becoming as dynamic as the history of Vietnam. Hanoi in the 50s had no beef supply on Mondays and Fridays, so chicken pho was invented, the pho connoisseurs were aghast at this new invention!  But young women liked it- it was more elegant in appearance and lighter in taste.
However Pho ingredients and its condiments keep on changing according to the cooks in different regions of Vietnam and overseas.
After millions of Vietnamese left Vietnam after 1975 Pho has been globalised and homogenised by the ready made “stock in a packet” with the universal flavour enhancer glutamate (MSG).
Pho Hanoi should be served in a ceramic bowl with a porcelain spoon and bamboo chopsticks. (ask me why this is, via my ‘ask me anything’ option).
The noodle should be soft, velvety and ‘aldente’ as the Italian’s say. The stock should be clear, of dark amber colour and natural tasting. The distinctive pho flavour can only be made with beef bones with marrow and cinnamon quills, big cloves (thao qua) and star anises. Then, thin slices of cooked brisket and tender rare beef fillet arranged beautifully ontop, sprinkled with finely chopped green shallots. Pho Hanoi, must be accompanied by only the freshest mint and coriander leaves,  extra quality fish sauce, slices of red hot chilli, freshly ground pepper, and wedges of lemon or lime.  Any other condiments will spoil the clean rich taste of the beef stock.
When the steamy bowl of Hanoi pho is brought out, the diners should use the porcelain spoon to taste the stock first then use their chopsticks to test the noodle and the meat separately before adding on any of the condiments.
Pho should be eaten immediately, before the noodles soak up the stock and they become ‘heavy’.
I have been experimenting with pho stock since coming to Australia in 1962.  We were all nostalgic for a bowl of pho, the essence of our country.I used the recipes from the two old cookery books which my mother gave me when I left Vietnam. In one of the books, “Lam Bep Kheo”  Mrs Van Dai used strips of sugarcane to line the stock pot before placing the blanched bones in.   In the other book, “Am thuc Tu tri” , cabbage or prawn heads were used in sweetening the stock. Other visitors in Australia from Vietnam tried to help me with tips and I tried them all. I tried to make stock with Sa sung (a dried marine worms), with minced up crab juice, with squid and prawn heads but none of these were satisfactory… it took me almost 40 years to discover how to cook the best pho stock. 
Last year for 5 weekends I cooked Pho to raise money for leukaemia children undergoing chemotherapy in a Hanoi hospital. It was over this time that I discovered how to make a perfect stock using the Cordon Bleu method of making rich brown stock.
I was transported back to my childhood in Hanoi when I tasted my perfect pho stock.  I clearly saw my mother bringing home a steamy bowl of pho from the “pho ganh” (portable pho stall) for my father when we had no left-overs from previous dinners to rehash for breakfast.
I could never believe that happiness can be so simple!