Eric Akis: Give thanks for turkey pho

Eric Akis

My son Tyler is obviously a forward thinker, because two weeks ago he sent me a text and said wouldn’t it be great to make pho with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. I thought it was a great idea, and today have provided a recipe for making that Vietnamese-style soup with it.

Pho, pronounced “fuh,” means noodle, a prominent ingredient in this main-course soup. Once cooked, those noodles are set in a large serving bowl and topped with a palate-awakening broth, cooked meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables and fresh garnishes.

article continues below

To make my turkey pho, I first made turkey stock with the carcass of the bird. When strained and ready, I used some of that stock for my pho, and cooled and froze the rest for another use.

To turn the stock into a pho-style broth, I put it in a pot, added some garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon and star-anise and brought it to a boil. I then removed the pot from the heat and let those ingredients steep in the stock 30 minutes, causing it to become aromatic and flavourful, before straining it.

To finish the soup, the turkey pho broth is brought to a simmer. Shreds of leftover turkey meat are added to it ,and it’s further flavoured with such things as fish sauce and soy sauce. When hot, it’s then poured into noodle-filled bowls and served with items you can add to the bowls at the dining table, such as fresh herbs, green onion and fresh chilies or chili sauce.

It’s a perfect meal for a cool autumn day, and a great way to use up some of that leftover turkey you’ll have if you cook a bird this weekend.

Turkey Pho for Two

Use some of your leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make this aromatic, filling and flavourful Vietnamese-style main-course soup.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: about 40 minutes

Makes: two servings

For the pho garnishes

4 lime wedges

1 to 2 green onions, thinly sliced

• whole, chopped or sliced fresh basil, cilantro and/or mint leaves, to taste

• thinly sliced fresh red chilies, or hot Asian-style chili sauce, such as Sriracha, to taste

• bean sprouts, to taste (optional)

For the pho

4 cups turkey stock

1 small cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces

2 star anise (see Note 1)

1 medium shallot, halved and thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove, chopped

2 tsp chopped fresh ginger

1 cup shredded, cooked turkey meat, or to taste

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp fish sauce

• salt and freshly ground white, to taste

150 grams rice stick noodles (see Note 2)

Place garnishes in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with the pho.

Place stock, cinnamon, star anise, shallot, garlic and ginger in a pot. Set pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Now remove pot from the heat and let mixture steep 30 minutes.

Set a fine strainer over another pot. Now pour the stock mixture through that strainer and into the other pot. Mix in soy sauce and fish sauce. Taste and season this pho broth with salt and pepper (see Eric’s options).

Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Set the pot with the pho broth in it over medium-low heat, add the shredded turkey and cover the pot.

When water is boiling, add the noodles and cook until tender, about 45 to 60 seconds. Drain noodles well, and then divide between two large soup bowls. Ladle the pho broth and shredded turkey over the noodles. Serve the soup with the garnishes, allowing diners to top their pho with them as desired.

Note 1: Star anise is a star-shaped seedpod. This dried spice has a licorice-like taste similar to — but more intense than — regular anise. It’s sold at some supermarkets, such as Fairway Market, Asian foods stores, such as those in Chinatown, and bulk food stores. It’s best to call ahead to see if where you plan to shop stocks it.

Note 2: Thin, rice stick noodles, also called vermicelli, are sold in the Asian foods aisle of most supermarkets. Package sizes can vary. Remove what you need for this recipe and save the rest for another time.

Eric’s options: You can make the strained pho broth many hours before finishing off and serving the pho. If you do, cool it to room temperature, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Turkey Stock

Once made and cooled, this stock can be kept in the refrigerator up to three days. If you don’t use it by then, package, label, date and freeze it for later use.

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking time: two to two and half hours

Makes: About eight to 10 cups

1 medium to large onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 large carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced

2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and sliced

12 to 16 cups water (depending on size of turkey carcass)

4 to 6 fresh parsley sprigs

1 tsp dried thyme

8 to 10 whole black peppercorn

2 to 3 bay leaves

1 turkey carcass, cut into four or six pieces, plus any other turkey bones you have

Place all ingredients in a tall pot and set over medium-high. Bring to just below a boil, and then reduce temperature until liquid gently simmers (small bubbles should just break on the surface). Simmer, uncovered, for two hours.

At this point, ladle a little stock into a small bowl, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and taste it. If it has a nice turkey taste, it’s ready. If not, simmer a while longer.

When ready, strain the stock, cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Remove any solidified fat and the stock is ready to use or package and freeze for up to three months.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist