Build Your Own Pho, Quick Work Lunch in a Jar

Build Your Own Pho, Quick Work Lunch in a Jar

To attempt a healthier me in 2016, I am now targeting my midday nourishment to make some changes. The first hurdle is that my work office only has a toaster oven and an electric kettle to cook with. What can be made that isn’t a frozen processed food in a box? I thought why not focus on the electric kettle (it was a Christmas gift). How about Vietnamese Pho.

Instant Homemade Soup In a Jar, Vietnamese Pho

So I found an article about Pho in a Jar. I’ve never really been big on actual recipes, so I used it for inspiration. I bought a 12-pack of 16 oz. jars and went off to get some fresh veggies, rice noodles and ground turkey as soup filling. The recipe calls for Miso soup base, but that isn’t easy to find in a regular grocery store.

Since I couldn’t find a Miso base, my first batch of Pho uses a chicken stock base. There were two different recipes I concocted. Here is the first:

Fake-Noodle Pho
1 tsp chicken soup base
3 to 5 oz fresh Asian vegetable mix (carrots, onion, snow peas, zucchini, red pepper)
3 oz bean sprouts
3 oz cooked ground turkey
1 lime wedge
soy and/or sriracha to taste

Step 1: Place soup base at the bottom of the jar. Layer with fresh vegetable mix (ensure the vegetables are chopped small enough that they can be eaten with a soup spoon), bean sprouts and ground turkey.

Step 2: Lay lime wedge on top. Add a shake of the soy sauce bottle and a small squeeze or sriracha, if desired. Close jar and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

The jar which rested over 24 hours packed more flavor, so Patience makes the Pho grow stronger.

Lunchtime: Open jar and add boiling water. Lightly cover and let rest for 5-8 minutes. Remove lime wedge and stir. Enjoy.

Lessons Learned:
– Don’t squeeze the lime wedge, the citrus/acid will be too intense. Resting the lime in the jar was plenty effective. I plan to try lime zest next time as an experiment.
– I added a shake of fish sauce to one and the fridge marination resulted in an intense smell. I didn’t feel it added enough flavor to the Pho.
– Don’t be afraid to pack the jar with extra of your favorite ingredient. During the marination and addition of water, it will lose some volume.

Just Add Water, Instant Vietnamese Pho

I look forward to trying it with a Miso base, with tofu, shrimp and other great combinations. Have a flavor combo that I should try? Comment below.

A Casual June 2013 Wine Exchange

Many have asked “when’s the next wine exchange” and although TasteBudA was twisting my arm to take the summer off – I think it’s important to keep the tradition of the bi-monthly wine exchanges alive.  So, we’ve agreed on a happy medium.


Our next wine exchange will be a little more casual at Pho Van in the Strip District.  We’ve been meaning to get to a Vietnamese restaurant for some time, since we raved about our first experience. This will be a perfect venue for a more casual experience.  The average meal at Pho Van is well below the cost of our typical wine exchanges, so we’ll not be preparing a menu, but simply taking reservations for the crowd.  With the date only 3 weeks away, we hope that you’ll be able to join us for a casual night in the strip district.

Pho Van – our first vietnamese experience, a success

Pho Van on UrbanspoonDespite rising parking costs in Pittsburgh’s strip district, TasteBudA and I decided to overlook the parking costs and venture into a new cuisine for us – Vietnamese.  Awhile back I had purchased a Groupon for Pho Van to ensure that I’d take the time to try this new cuisine.  After a recent review of my already purchased Groupons, I decided Pho Kim had to be the one to use next.  So, on the day of its expiration, we took the time to go.

Spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce ($3)


I loved the fact that it was BYOB, because that makes any restaurant dinner more affordable – and after the preceeding work week, I was happy to have a glass of wine.  Upon arriving, I was impressed at how busy this restaurant was and the diversity of clientele – varying ethnicities and ages, even kids.  I immediately thought that if this cuisine was approachable to children, that it would be something I shouldn’t be afraid of.
For my meal, I ordered an order of spring rolls and the pork Bahn Mi (Note: the bahn mi is not on the printed menu, but available if you ask for it by name).
Pork Bahn Mi ($4)


The spring rolls were light and refreshing.  The fresh mint leaves left me craving a mojito as an after-meal drink.
What I was most taken back by was the hot spiciness of the bahn mi sandwich.  My first exposure to the sandwich was the FoodNetwork show Great Food Truck Race where the Nom Nom truck served bahn mi across the country our of their food truck.  At Pho Van, the sandwich was only about $4 and worth every penny.  Now I see how Nom Nom was able to win over Americans with their vientamese take on a grilled hoagie.

Being a BYOB restaurant, could Pho Van be a TasteBuds Wine Exchange destination? Perhaps.  But we have some great events lined up through December of this year, so maybe in 2012 we could host something and share our experience with the rest of our loyal wine exchange group.