7 September 2015

Trialling Nem Viet's Vietnamese Pho Kit - what a little beauty!

Well, there was a total sea change for dinner this evening as we trialled Nem Viet's Vietnamese Pho kit.

Available from certain Waitrose and Sainsbury's stores, plus via Amazon.uk, they retail at a fairly reasonable £2-£3 each.  Even if you're making the beef version - which requires a quality piece of steak - it still works out not too terribly expensive as you require just a small amount of meat.  We shared a £4.00 rump steak, which although we could both have eaten more (it was so good!), was actually sufficient.

Inside the pack, there is a small bag of rice noodles (which I was sure weren't going to be enough, but to my surprise proved perfectly adequate), a sachet of seasoning mix and a sachet of sauce mix.

I was somewhat taken aback to note (rather belatedly) that there was no stock involved in the kit and you had to make (for "make", read "concoct") your own.  I suppose, in retrospect, it makes sense as if you're intending on making a seafood Pho, there's little point in having a beef stock mix in the kit.  However, I hadn't though that far at the time.

So, for my stock - and it's worth remembering this if you're ever in the same situation and in Britain - I used a Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot, plus 1 tsp of beef Bovril in 500ml water, which did the job admirably.  I dare say it wasn't the quality stock that a good Pho demands, but considering the pinch I was in, I thought it did perfectly well.  In fact, with the added seasoning and sauce sachets from the kit, it made a surprisingly tasty broth that was rich with star anise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom flavours.

Hubby sat this one out as brothy soups aren't his favourite thing.  Our son joined in the Pho party and we both gave it a very distinct thumbs up.  In fact, our exclamations of delight attracted the attention of hubby, who - after a cautious taster - was very happy to polish off the remainder of our son's bowl, so that's a distinct positive vote for the kit!

As mentioned above, I made my kit into a beef Pho, for which I used a beautiful rump steak - sliced as thinly as I could manage -  and beansprouts, julienne of carrot, quartered baby corn, diagonally sliced spring onion, Thai basil, sliced red chilli and lime quarters as our additional flavours and veggies.  However, you could go any way you like with the kit - seafood, chicken, pork - as you provide your own stock, it is subsequently very flexible.  I also liked that it wasn't blisteringly hot from chilli.  Just a natural, gentle warmth that you could either dress up with the addition of sliced raw red chilli, or omit the chillis and leave it mild and warming.

I cooked the beansprouts, carrot, baby corn and spring onion in the broth for just 3 minutes and poured the boiling stock onto the pre-soaked noodles and raw beef, which was enough to cook the meat to a perfect tenderness.  With home-made beef bone stock, I should imagine it would be utterly to die for.

As my very first Pho experience, it was perfect.  NOW I understand why everyone loves Pho.  It's unashamedly comfort food - but healthy, interesting and spicy comfort food!

I will definitely have the kit again.  We're already planning a seafood version, with a chicken version upcoming in the wings!

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