Not long ago someone on VWK asked if I had a turkey pho recipe. I was working on it and it took a while for me to figure it out, primarily because I’m not a turkey lover. As you may recall my mentioning over the years, our family abandoned Thanksgiving turkey in the 1980s when my mom admitted that the big bird cooked up dry and that she preferred goose, duck, Cornish game hens, and chicken. For that reason, come each November, I walk right past the turkey in the butcher counter and freezer cases. I’ve trained myself to neglect supermarket ads and deals on natural, heritage, and Butterball turkeys.
Earlier this year I confronted my turkey issues. ChefSteps.com had invited me to partner with them on Shanghai soup dumplings as well as soy milk and tofu video tutorials. They asked me to share other cooking insights and I thought of turkey pho. If you roast turkey around the holidays, how could the remains be turned into pho noodle soup? Maybe turkey pho would be a gateway for people to craft pho at home?
I didn’t include a recipe for turkey pho in The Pho Cookbook because it’s mostly a seasonal thing and plus, we didn’t have enough space in the book. To carryout the project for ChefSteps, I roasted several 11 to 13-pound turkeys to generate carcasses and other leftovers bits that would be used for developing a turkey pho recipe.
One of the most challenging aspects of making good turkey pho (and perhaps another reason why I shied away from it) is how to downplay the strong turkey flavor, which wiped out the subtleties of the charred onion and ginger. Pho is a delicate dance of spices and aromatics. In the end, I dumped the charring and instead dry sauteed the onion and ginger. I also chose to add lots of vegetables to counterbalance the turkey-ness of the turkey broth.