I first entered college in the fall of 1998 at Southwest Missouri State University (now just called Missouri State University). I lived in Freudenberger House (aka “Freddy”), one of the older dorms on campus which had only one elevator, and that elevator couldn’t be used unless you had a disability or were moving in/out. I lived on the fourth floor (4WW, holla!!!), and it was that four-story walkup that probably saved me from the “Freshman 15”. Our room overlooked the university’s former pool, which was empty and always made me wish it wasn’t. I think they finally got around filling it in since then.
My desk in my dorm room. As you can see, I was a little obsessed with putting crap on the wall. And check out that antique beige contraption taking up half the desktop… Windows 98, baby!
I only lived in the dorms for one year, then had an off-campus apartment from then on. But in the dorms, open flame was not allowed. So all cooking had to be done using either a microwave or hot plate. I wish I’d been kitchen-savvy enough at the time to realize that could have also included a CrockPot; I could have been making some seriously gourmet eats.
Instead, I lived on a steady diet of unlimited cafeteria grub (you mean I can have cereal AND pizza? Heck yessss…) and I had a stockpile of Goldfish crackers, Ramen, Spaghetti-Os, and canned ravioli in my dorm room, supplied in bulk courtesy of my Nana & her Sam’s Club membership. :D
And even though my gastronomic skills have expanded greatly since those days, I still regularly have Ramen in my desk drawer at work for a quick lunch if I’m swamped.
However, in homage to my return to Academia this week (for a class in GeoChemistry, eep!), I figured an Ode To Ramen was in order.
But not just regular, plain-Jane Ramen. Heck no, that’s not blog-worthy.
We need something delicious and grown-up that actually constitutes a full meal.
We need pho.
Well…. Feaux Pho.
Pho typically is served with beef or chicken as the protein, but since this isn’t a traditional pho, I wasn’t too worried about putting my own spin on it. And I was craving scallops (since I had some in my freezer).
My very first experience with pho was at Pho Bang in New Orleans, thanks to my friend/coworker Vee. It’s amazing how such a “simple” food can cover an entire table. At Pho Bang, all the components are served separately, so that you can “customize” your pho to your exact taste. It’s a great concept, but when it’s your first time and all of a sudden, your table is covered in small bowls of hoisin, cilantro, bean sprouts, mushrooms, scallions, thai basil, lime wedges, serrano slices, and thinly sliced uncooked beef… you start to wonder exactly what you got yourself in to.
But here’s how it works: You get a big bowl that contains your noodles and steaming hot broth. The heat from the broth will cook the beef and all the other ingredients, making a delicious and filling, yet light beef soup. The aroma of the thai basil will work its way into your nose, up your brainstem, and lodge this dish permanently in your cerebellum.
Anywayyyy…. enough reminiscing. Let’s make with the food.
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp ginger
1 cinnamon stick*
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (this was about 3 mushrooms)
1 green onion, sliced
salt (if needed)
2 packages instant ramen, chicken flavor (if you decide to go the traditional beef route, use a beef flavor instead)
6 oz scallops, fresh or thawed
1/2 tsp chinese five spice
Cilantro, lime wedges, thinly sliced jalapeno or serrano peppers, bean sprouts, thai basil (sadly, we didn’t have the last two as I forgot to go to the asian market)
*The original recipe also called for star anise, but I didn’t have any onhand.
Prep your veggies (mushrooms, onion, green onion, peppers, etc.) and set aside.
Then boil your noodles for about a minute less than the package directions. I used the microwave because…well…it’s Ramen.
I didn’t break up the noodles because I wanted to be able to easily eat this with chopsticks, because that’s just the way pho should go, yo. (PS—if you suck at chopsticks, you can totally use a fork. No one will judge you.)
Once the noodles are done, drain and divide between two large bowls.
In a small stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium, and then add the sliced onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the garlic begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add 5 cups of water, the two seasoning packets from the Ramen packages, and the cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, season the scallops with the five spice and sear in a small skillet. This is not necessarily because I don’t trust the broth to cook them, but because I think scallops just look tastier when they’re seared.
Don’t you agree?
Back to your broth: Add your mushrooms and green onions and simmer for about 2 minutes. Then check for seasoning and add salt, if needed.
Fish the cinnamon stick and garlic cloves out of the pot and discard. Then ladle the broth into the bowls on top of the noodles. Scatter the scallops on top.
Garnish with the cilantro, peppers, lime juice, bean sprouts, basil, whatever you have, ‘til you like the taste. Some people I know also add hoisin or soy sauce. It’s really all about your preference.
Then break out the chopsticks!!!
YUM!!!! It’s not as genuine as Pho Bang, but it’ll satisfy my craving! I served it with a pork egg roll on the side. SUPER filling and not a ton of calories!
So here’s to all the students headed back to the books this week. May your pencils (and wits) stay sharp, may your pens not run dry, and may you not doze off in class!
Total Fat 7.9 g
Saturated Fat 3.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 28.1 mg
Sodium 971.4 mg
Potassium 480.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 36.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
Sugars 1.0 g
Protein 21.2 g