I’m traveling right now in Asia, tasting and talking to lots of locals about street food, ingredients, and culture. Back in the States, my old friend Simon B. gave me a heads up on a recipe from this week’s Rachel Ray’s TV show: Phunky BBQ Pho with Pork.
Many of us on this site try to parse good food from bad, authentic food from inauthentic stuff. Standing in our way toward better informing one another are poor media productions such as this segment of the Rachel Ray.
Did you see it? Rachel Ray's pho recipe is described with this sell: “This Thai-inspired soup is loaded with exotic flavors!” She says on the show that it's Vietnamese but the recipe says otherwise.
With all the money that backs up the Rachel Ray Show, can’t anyone get the ethnicity right? Or, do all Asians look and cook the same?! Fact checkers, personal and research assistants to Rachel Ray should do their homework.
Pho is not Thai. It’s Vietnamese. Pho is in dictionary so it’s not hard to get the low-down.
I’ve got no qualms about people coming up with authentic and inauthentic renditions of food as long as they stay true to the original to some extent. Rachel Ray’s Phunky BBQ Pho with Pork calls for garlic, angel hair pasta, and plum and hoisin sauce, among other ingredients such as canned chicken broth and ginger.
The pork is seared and then cooked in the oven with broth. Is that the BBQ part? No, she puts hoisin on it at the end in the bowl.
No fish sauce, though the garnishes of red onion, mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, and Sriracha brings the pho a tiny closer to being pho.
Angel hair pasta? What decade do we live in? At least try a flat noodle like linguine to get the shape closer to banh pho rice noodles!
It’s a funky recipe all right and I’m rather appalled that the producers of the Rachel Ray show would such an injustice to pho noodle soup.
Ray touts the magic of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to making food extra good. I wish that her show producers would go the extra mile for Asian food. It doesn't have to be super authentic Asian cooking but at least teach people something valuable, not funky.
Rachel Ray’s fans deserve better. So does America.
For more on pho, check the pages in the Pho Essentials category.