Southeast Asian Pho
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
- 1/2 red chile pepper, or to taste
- 3 scallions
- 1/2 yellow pepper
- 2 handfuls spinach
- 2 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
- 1/2 chicken or vegetable stock cube (or generous pinch of salt)
- 1 lime
- 1 handful fresh cilantro and basil
Adapted from food52.com
Begin by preparing your bowl at home up to 48 hours in advance. Peel the ginger and mince it. Add it to a large heatproof jar or container with a sealable lid. Finely chop the chile pepper (remove seeds if you prefer less spice) and add it to the minced ginger. Chop the white part of the scallions and slice the yellow pepper lengthwise into thin strips. Add the spinach leaves and rice noodles along with the stock cube. Slice the lime in half and add both halves to the container, then finely chop the herbs and add them on top.
At lunchtime: Boil a pot of fresh water either using your office microwave or kettle. Remove the lime from your jar and pour the boiling water over the soup mix until it just covers everything. Using a fork, stir the soup until the stock has dissolved. Close the lid and give it a good shake. Let the soup rest for a minute then squeeze the lime over top.
While we've provided our own recipe, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind if you prefer to branch out on your own:
Slice or peel vegetables as finely as possible—remember that you’re not simmering anything on the stove, and thinner vegetables will lose that raw crunch more quickly. A mandoline is a good and inexpensive tool to invest in: Just watch your fingers.
Choose any crisp vegetables: Courgette or carrot ribbons, thinly sliced red or yellow pepper, spring onions, leeks or mushrooms, baby sweet corn, baby spinach, sugar snap peas, and bean sprouts all work well.
Flavor your broth with things like sliced fresh chiles, lime wedges, lemongrass stalks, grated ginger, stock cubes, coriander, Thai basil, and mint.
Make sure you use a heat-safe container. A vintage glass jar may look pleasingly rustic, but it would be a minor lunch-based disaster if the addition of boiling water caused it to crack (we don’t even want to think about the health and safety implications). You don’t need to scald yourself in pursuit of a tasty lunch, we promise.