Episode 494: Pho
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:05
And I'm Matthew.
And this is spilled milk, the show where we cook something delicious. Eat it all, and you can't have any.
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:11
And today we're talking about food.
That is correct. We are talking about fun.
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:16
Is that correct? We're gonna find out like we're gonna have Andrea Nguyen on as our guest in just a little bit. And I think we Molly and I are going to be pronouncing for much better after the interview than before.
I sure hope so. But before Andrea joins us, we wanted to say thank you to everyone who donated to the organizations during our live show. But we sort of dedicated our live show maybe you might say to the black and brown podcast collective and stop AAPI hate. And we heard that the black and brown podcast collective got over 20 donations from our listeners. Thank you, listeners,
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:51
thanks for stepping up and supporting some organizations that we really believe in. And if you missed our live show, and you can go to the Reddit reddit.com slash are slash everything spilled milk, where it'll be available to view until the end of June. And that's June 2021. In case you're listening to this in the future, which people sometimes do. Did you know that people sometimes listen to our show from the future right now? Oh my god. There's a time traveler. The Time Traveler's Wife is listening.
Oh, I've heard of her. Yeah. Well, Matthew, do you think that people in the future are still eating fun?
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:29
I think there's 100% chance is one of the world's most popular suits.
Great. Well, let's let's travel back in time then before we go to the future or even stay here in the present. And
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:40
are we traveling back from the future to to the present? Are we traveling back from the present to further in the past? We've hit a we've already had a time travel paradox I think
we have I don't even know how to answer that question. So Matthew, what's on your memory?
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:54
Some Time Traveler's Wife you are. So I think I got to kind of late so I first had it in Seattle probably in the late 90s, early 2000s. And I remember hearing people talking about this soup that you have to have and I think my first experience was probably get tongue brothers on the app or first so one in little Saigon. And I remember loving the the soup itself loving the the ordering system where you choose like the variety of meats that you want in the soup and that they have like four or five different sizes of from pretty big to enormous. Yes. And I put I made a late addition to the agenda that I want to talk about what size you will order
like the sizing of for orders reminds me of the sizing at Starbucks. Yeah. It starts at tall and just goes like larger than that. Like, exactly how big do you want it to be? Because even a small foot is huge.
Matthew Amster-Burton 2:53
Yeah, no, we should definitely get into this so we should we should ask Andrea what what size she orders when she when she gets hit at a restaurant. Okay. And a ton brothers I The other thing. I remember of course, like the you know, the the salad plate that you get alongside with vegetables and herbs to garnish your soup with. I love that. And that they make their own cream puffs and they give you a cream puff before you get your soup. And so everyone I think who eats a ton brothers has a strong opinion on whether you eat the cream pie first or last.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I was so surprised to see on the agenda that you got to the full game late to because I had just assumed that you especially since you lived in in Seattle. Since you grew up in Portland. I just figured that you would I don't know stuff earlier. I'm disappointed in you, Matthew. But yeah, it's fair. I love having your company here on the the late to memory lane. Because you first had it yesterday.
No, I first had fun. I think probably around the time I moved here to Seattle, which would have been 2002 I don't think I actually you know what? Wow, now that now that we're talking about it, Matthew, I just had a memory. I just had a memory come back to me So okay, I think I've told you before that my dad, you know, my dad, the inventor of
Matthew Amster-Burton 4:11
the inventor of Altoids in the 17, late 1700s. And endive man
I think that I may have mentioned on the show that he took great pleasure in like on Saturday or Sunday mornings when he was like hitting estate sales and garage sales all over the city. He took great pleasure in always stopping by like one of the Chinese markets or one of the Vietnamese markets that started cropping up on classen. Or at least I'm sure that they had been there way before we knew they were there. But I think they I think that it's like mainstream publications started paying attention to them and my dad figured out they were there. He would stop I remember him bringing home like lacquer duck. Yeah, just be he was so excited to have discovered a source for This stuff, but I do remember there being a fireplace there in kind of like, you know, like old strip shopping center near one of those markets. And I do remember going there with him and I think with his friend Michael, who was always in like a very enthusiastic and fun person to eat with. And I remember having chicken for. Yeah, maybe so maybe I had okay before you did, Matthew probably did. Oh my god, this is so exciting.
Matthew Amster-Burton 5:29
Oh, I was gonna say something interesting that you mentioned chicken pho which I like a lot. Also. I remember like, you know, tiresome food people like arguing about like, you know, it's if it's chicken or or vegetarian is really fun. And I read I read Andrea's full cookbook the other day and learned that like when when chicken pho was first introduced in Vietnam in the 30s like they the same like yeah, silly debate going on then. Yes.
Oh my god. Well, okay, I feel fine then about starting with. Yeah, absolutely. And anyway, but I think that it didn't really become I think I wasn't really aware of it as like the ultimate comfort soup thing to have when you're feeling sick thing to have any time. Delicious, reliable, amazing noodle Li meaty soup. Yeah, until I how was that for a description? I
Matthew Amster-Burton 6:29
think that was really good. I think it sounds like you're working on your own foot cook.
Thank you. Um, anyway, I think I first went to town brothers here in Seattle, a writer on the time I moved here and yes, the experience is, for as much as it is a fun place. The experience is about the cream puffs. Yeah, I always eat mine afterward.
Matthew Amster-Burton 6:49
I always you mind first, because I think that like, you know, you know, the marshmallow test where they make a kid sit in front of a marshmallow. Like, if I heard that I was gonna be given that test. Like somehow I would have eaten the marshmallow before arriving. And that's that's what happens when you put a cream puff down in front of me also.
I mean, Matthew, we've been doing this show for 11 years now. I'm endlessly surprised by the things I learned about you. Like I would not have necessarily figured that you were like, can't wait to eat the marshmallow kid.
Matthew Amster-Burton 7:18
Yeah, well, this morning literally this morning, just before coming here to do this show. And when I say here, I've been my house. I went down to Q FC to pick up some groceries while I was in line. For the self checkout. I grabbed a pack of Reese's big cups that were in a in a sale dump. And I'm like, cool. I'll bring these home and and have one later for a treat. And by the time I got home, I had already eaten one of them.
Oh, wow. Yeah, that's not me at all. That's very interesting. Yeah. Wow. So not only are we not married, but we're not the same person.
Matthew Amster-Burton 7:51
No. Do you think this makes us incompatible? Probably. Yeah. Maybe just the opposite. I think I think like, you know, how would this work out? Exactly. Nevermind. Now we're incompatible.
Okay, okay. Anyway, so um, okay, so I'm really glad that we're gonna get to talk to Andrea here in just a second because there is no one I can think of who is a better teacher of all things far than Andrea annoyin.
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:16
literally wrote the book
literally wrote the book, you know, you and I late adopters to to FDA. We need an expert.
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:25
Yeah. Now, having said that, I did. Like I said, I read Andrea's book. And I have I have some things that I learned who he should be like, start talking about the history of and then yeah, we'll jump in with Andrea when she gets here.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, let's let's do the part that that I'm guessing Andrea probably won't be as I don't know. I figure I want to know about the cooking of it.
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:44
Yes. Okay, so, if you if you have not had it, I bet I'm willing to bet there are at least a couple of our listeners who haven't yet had the pleasure. It is a Vietnamese soup made with rice, noodles and meat usually beef, although it can definitely be made with chicken whereas whereas it's called Death a god or vegetarian. I will preface the rest of this by saying that Vietnamese is a highly tonal language and none of the words that I say in Vietnamese are going to have any meaning if you are a Vietnamese speaker. So first originated in the early 20th century, and even the word itself is new, so they did not take an existing Vietnamese word and repurpose it for this soup. It seems to have come from a simplification of the Vietnamese pronunciation of the Cantonese term for beef with rice noodles.
Matthew Amster-Burton 9:31
Yeah. And so you will hear like a common folk etymology is that is related to food. Like it's that it's something like poteau for in French, that is coincidental. And the broth, like the broth techniques are influenced by by French broth making techniques in that it's a clarified broth, but the word is not related.
Interesting. Did you find all this in Andrea's book?
Matthew Amster-Burton 9:55
I found all this in Andrea's book.
Matthew Amster-Burton 9:58
Okay. This This book is Great like, whether you are going to make foot home or not like if you are if you are interested in making foot home this is the perfect guide to to to have you to help you make your first book. But even if you just like eating it, it's a it's just a fun book to spend some time with my grandfather, like tpha and used to eat at this place in New Jersey called full queue and didn't understand that the the name was a joke.
That is delightful. Is this your mean grandfather? Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh my God. That is like, that makes my story perfect.
Matthew Amster-Burton 10:35
Yeah, I think he thought the dish was called full cue as well.
bless his heart. Yeah. Wow. Rest in peace, dude.
Matthew Amster-Burton 10:47
As it says on his, his tomb status, rest in peace dude, because he loves to surf like me.
so far is wildly popular throughout Vietnam and in the world. But there are two distinct regional styles, right, which I didn't know.
Matthew Amster-Burton 11:01
Yeah, so I think I first learned about this when I read eating Vietnam by Graham holiday, which is a food memoir from 2016 by a food writer who lived for a long time in Vietnam. And I had always thought of foot as being kind of this one thing, like the kind that you get in Seattle, which has kind of a sweet, sweet broth, and lots and lots of garnishes, and you put you know, hoisin sauce and maybe siracha in it. And that is Southern style, or Saigon style. Ah, his whole other style of Northern or Hanoi style, which is absolutely recognizably the same dish. You know, rice noodles usually be, you know, very flavorful broth and some garnishes, but it's, it's made with no sugar added to the broth, so it's much more like savory focused, is the question. Yes, the
is the broth still clear?
Matthew Amster-Burton 11:56
The broth is still clear. Yeah. Okay. And but the broth it's sometimes in Andrea's recipe. The The broth is made with with charred shallots and garlic for extra umami, which sounds really good. And the garnishes are typically just scallion cilantro, garlic, maybe chili sauce. And like fried dough, like like, you know the long Chinese doughnuts. Yes, those were introduced at some point in the past and just like like hung on like as the most part one of the most popular side dishes from Northern style.
That's so interesting. It like reminds me of tortilla soup
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:31
So just the fried dough I assume when you first put it in it stays it's crunchy and then
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:38
I don't know if you dip it I assume you do but but yeah, I'm curious about that
are like dipping tempura in your soba broth. Yeah.
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:47
Like that And like and like the the oil from from the donut is gonna is gonna enrich the broth a little bit. I was just talking to like teenager the show December just just said you know like when we're going out to restaurants again that they want to go to Northwest tofu on Jackson and get the the Chinese doughnuts with that with soy milk. Which is such a good dish. Like they have two kinds of like choice of like sweet or sweet or savory soy milk. And I like the we like the savory soy milk bass that has like slices of the doughnuts floating. It is so good.
Oh my god. I've never had that.
Matthew Amster-Burton 13:21
I so good.
Okay, can I meet you guys there? Yeah. Three cheers for vaccination.
Matthew Amster-Burton 13:26
Yes. So like like with ramen. The the broth I feel like is 90% of what makes a good food. So for. For beef. It's made with parboiled beef bones that have been like parboiled to get some of the like scummy stuff out. So for clarity, spices and like typically the spices you would that would be go into like a Chinese five spice. So things like Star Anise, cinnamon and cloves, salt fish sauce, usually MSG, ginger and onion or shallot and then if it's a southern style broth, they'll add yellow rock sugar if it's a northern style broth that's usually flavored with Chinese black cardamom.
Do you know anywhere in Seattle to get a hanoi style for
Matthew Amster-Burton 14:08
I don't know and this is something like I tried doing a little research and I want to ask Andrew about like whether this is something that that you can get in the US at all. Okay, have you been a restaurant that is I haven't made it okay.
Oh Matthew so we're going to be taping in person Yeah, for what next week's episode no no further down the line Yeah.
Anyway, I'm kind of thinking that you should make me Hanoi style
Matthew Amster-Burton 14:38
I think I have to Yeah, okay. I've got I've got Andrews book here like there's there's no reason I can't do it. I need to source some beef bones
and nothing says hot summer like, like a good steaming bowl of soup.
Matthew Amster-Burton 14:54
Although like I mean it's though right kind of broth. First of all, like like, Vietnam is a country with a pretty hot climate and like late to the right kind of hot soup for a hot day, I think
well, it feels like the kind of thing that I mean, there are reasons why one would eat a hot foods or spicy foods in the heat, right? I mean, it makes you sweat which cools down etc. So okay, all right, Matthew, if you're willing to make fun,
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:18
I'm willing the the only part that I find daunting is getting the bones because like, I'm always afraid, like, you know, even if I call like Don and Joe's at the market and say like, I have a recipe the cause for this kind of bones that they'll like laugh at me for some reason.
What what's the hold on? Wait, I'm still stuck on on cooking in your apartment in the heat. What was the episode we taped? Where? Oh my god. Was it working cheese? Yes, we were dying. But yeah, it was so hot. That was the one I think where I like took an ice pack and, like, shoved it in my bra.
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:53
I remember that. Yeah, we're getting back into the studio at the worst possible time. It's,
it's gonna be great. It's It's too bad that the studio isn't at my house, which because I'm sort of like downhill like I'm on kind of like a, like a downhill slope that continues on toward the sound. Sorry,
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:13
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:16
I was just reading this book about the the musical history of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. Which sounds so nice. I've never been there. So I imagine your house is like that.
My house is not at all like that. But anyway, it is always like a few degrees cooler when I like, turn off of 85th Street and start going north. It's always a bit cooler.
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:39
But do you ever like get home and find it like Joni Mitchell and David Crosby are like sitting on your porch writing a song and you're like, get out of here?
No, I get home and I find them all the time. And I'm always like, guys, check out.
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:56
Exactly. Yeah, Crosby knows where to get the good stuff. Yeah, we get we can tape it your house. I mean, if you're gonna have a new office, right? Your office as a podcast studio just takes me longer to get to your house.
I don't think my office is going to be a great podcast studio because so it's in what was formerly the red carpet love dungeon.
Matthew Amster-Burton 17:17
Yeah, I remember that we've taped air a couple times.
And we pulled out the carpet. And so it's now just going to have a concrete floor with with like, you know, area rugs. So it could work. It could work, but it's not going to sound as good as you might
Matthew Amster-Burton 17:32
have like a great natural slap Echo, like, like you would throw onto. It's like, it's like when when an echo happens just like one time like very quickly after the initial sound. And it sounds it sounds like rockabilly guitar. Cool. Can we give our show kind of a rockabilly? sheen?
Sure. You know, we could you could come over, we can tape in the closet.
Matthew Amster-Burton 17:53
I was I was thinking thinking about that, that when when you come over, wife of the show, Laurie is gonna is gonna go into the podcasting closet to do her job. And I was I was thinking like, you know, since since she has a real job, and we're podcasters like if she told us we had to cram into the podcasting closet. I wouldn't have like any any, like, authority to say no,
no, we can we can do it. Matthew, we have caught you know, we've gotten to a nude beach together. Yeah. We went slept and we slept in the same bed. I think a couple times. You once touched my butt.
Matthew Amster-Burton 18:27
Yeah, that's true. I knew you were gonna bring this up. Oh, I love it.
We're doing so so listeners. We're going on a corporate retreat actually, later this summer, and
Matthew Amster-Burton 18:39
they're gonna be three beds. It's gonna be the most luxurious corporate retreat we've ever taken.
It's true. It's true. Nobody has to share a bed except Matthew. I think you and I do have to share a room. I think you and I are in the twin beds in one room together.
Matthew Amster-Burton 18:52
No, it's gonna be like a classic sleepover.
I can't wait. I'm so excited. And it's more than two months away.
Matthew Amster-Burton 18:58
So Matthew. So how do you like your five Do you still go to Than brothers these days? I
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:04
do. Yeah. I i've I think we've gotten takeout from there. Once. I haven't. I haven't been like back inside a restaurant all the you and I ate outside of the restaurant, which was very nice.
I haven't been inside a restaurant yet either.
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:16
But when I go back to Tom brothers, I will order the number 10 tai Ching gone, which with brisket rare. I have round and beef tendon. And that's the meat combination. I like and then so what what big combination Do you get no matter what we do with the garnish?
You I was afraid you were gonna ask me this. So I have no idea what number it is, what it's called, or even what the meat is called. But I think it's like the rare roast beef that I like. Yeah. I mean, I have to say that. I am someone who is kind of squeamish about meat in a way that I don't think you are. I think this is
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:55
me. We've established I'm afraid of buying bones. That's true.
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:59
But What's more, because I'm squeamish about butchers?
No, I've I'm not squeamish about butchers. But I am squeamish about meat in general. In fact, we've kind of as a household talked a little bit about maybe giving up chicken because we're all really squeamish about it. And then it's like, why are we eating this? anyway? So I usually like the rare roast beef because honestly, to me, it feels the most approachable.
Matthew Amster-Burton 20:21
Yeah, I understand that.
Yeah, occasionally, I'll
Matthew Amster-Burton 20:23
get the meatballs also.
I like so I have had the meatballs too. And for whatever reason, I always forget that they're there.
Matthew Amster-Burton 20:31
Oh, wait, you mean you get the soup and forget that there are meatballs in it or you forget to order but that
would be a very pleasant surprise, right? Imagine a better surprise like oh, I just thought I was getting fun. Oh my god, there's a meatball in here.
Matthew Amster-Burton 20:44
I've mentioned many times probably that when I was growing up, Mama the show Judy amster would call it a grilled cheese sandwiches surprise cheese sandwich because sometimes the cheese would leak out of the bottom as a surprise line sir we just invented surprise meatball soup. I
prize meatball soup. Now I forget that it's on the menu like you know usually the rare roast beef is one of the ones up at the top and my don't go further down the list.
Matthew Amster-Burton 21:07
Yeah, absolutely. No, I think at Than brothers that the meatball like is in sort of a separate section even have the menu and talk about surprise meatballs. So then what do you do with the the garnishes and sauces, okay, okay,
so I always add at least one jalapeno slice. Sometimes I add two but I'm always amazed at the flavor that they give even just want the flavor and heat. So always one sometimes two jalapeno slices. Always the sprouts, always the herbs. And I do like a squeeze of siracha and I usually do it until the color is right. I do it by color. And then always a squeeze of lime. So I told ya, I don't tend to use hoisin sauce.
Matthew Amster-Burton 21:51
Okay, I will throw in pretty much everything except I don't usually add any sauce. It does muddy the broth. Yeah, but like the entire plate of like bean sprouts and herbs like all of that is going in like not necessarily all at once. Like it might go in in stages, but but I want it all in there. Just like the more the more stuff goes in look kind of the more festive it gets. What size there's
a surprise and then if there's a surprise meatball, I mean it doesn't get any better than that.
Matthew Amster-Burton 22:25
Well yeah, like also like the more herbs you add, the more it looks like a meatball sort of like partying and like the fronds of the jungle and saying like surprise, I'm here.
I was picturing I don't know why this image came to me. We can cut this part out but I was picturing baby Moses among the reeds.
Matthew Amster-Burton 22:42
Why would we Why do we cut that out? I
feel like it's like, like blasphemous or something. Not that I've ever worried about being blasphemous or, but anyway, I'm just picturing like, like, like baby's head in a basket. Or those bullrushes equals meatball. And then like the the reeds or whatever equals bean sprouts, and basil and cilantro and stuff.
Matthew Amster-Burton 23:05
Yeah, no, I think I think baby baby head equals meatball. I think we can all agree on
salutely I mean, they are indistinguishable.
Matthew Amster-Burton 23:14
Like, yeah, no, no. Often I'll like, I'll like meet a baby. And I'll say like, look at that surprise me. Bah.
That is exactly what I said when I was pushing.
Matthew Amster-Burton 23:24
Yeah. Get that surprise meatball out of me. What size do you order? Not me ball size. But supersize.
I always order the small.
Matthew Amster-Burton 23:35
I also always ordered this small and that and that's our show. And I feel like they say a lot about us. No, remember, like, how incompatible we were like, like 20 minutes ago. And
now like we've reconciled Oh my god. Let's get remarried.
Matthew Amster-Burton 23:50
Yeah, let's do the reconciliation dance. Yeah, that's a budget show. That's a budget joke. Nice one. Okay. I think one time I ordered the medium because I was really hungry. But I don't think I finished it.
I often don't even finish the small but I stand a good chance of finishing the small,
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:07
right? Yeah, under what circumstances where you order like the largest
ice. There's never been a circumstance under which I would order the largest one.
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:16
I'm pulling up the Than brothers menu and there are other places in Seattle. This is just the one that's closest to me. Have you ever been to Babar? I have never been to Babar. Okay. I have had takeout from bar there. FAS fantastic.
Yeah, thought is really, really excellent.
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:32
Yeah, so therefore sizes At than brothers small, medium, large and extra large.
The extra large surely must actually be served in one of those, like, plastic bathtubs for babies.
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:44
Yes. Oh, yeah. meatballs. It was such a big day when, when our baby like moved from the from the little plastic bathtub to the real bathtub.
I remember struggling to figure out how to properly cushion The bathtub for like the inevitable like tipping over that was going to happen
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:04
yeah bruising the meatball
bruising the meatball. God it's terrible in the meatball falls apart. Yeah, sure. bathtub so
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:12
messy. Yeah. But I mean it then thickens the bra.
God Okay, is Andrea just gonna is she is she going to get here and save us from ourselves?
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:25
Maybe let's hope so.
Andrea and when is no stranger to spilled milk listeners, she's written for every major publication you can think of and is the author of six cookbooks including the full cookbook, which won a 2018 James Beard award. Last time she was on spilled milk. We learned how to make a guy goon salad rolls.
Andrea, welcome back to spilled milk. We're so happy to have you here.
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:55
Yeah, let's do it. The first thing I'd like to ask you, even though Molly and I have been talking about it before you got here is how would you pronounce for in Vietnamese? Because I think our pronunciation is not great. And last time you were here, you taught us how to pronounce guy goon.
Andrea Nguyen 26:11
Right. So from Geico and we're going to go to follow. So I always tell people that think of it as an interrogative question, because it has that little question mark. diacritic above the Oh, so it's to a Vietnamese ear? It would say you'd say fall
Matthew Amster-Burton 26:27
Andrea Nguyen 26:28
Yeah, and just say it kind of slowly fall. You know, languidly.
I have a question about the vowel sounds in there. It sounds like you have a more complex vowel sound going on. Then Matthew and I have been producing. Is it more than just a sound?
Andrea Nguyen 26:46
Yeah, well, it's, it's an like, so the Oh, with the little hook on the side? It's an A, and then with the question mark on top of it. It's like an interrogative. So it's fun. Okay. Yeah. All right. You just say fall. I just slow down a little bit. And like, the next time you guys, you know, go and orderable if you just say that to a Vietnamese person and be like, what you've given me
Matthew Amster-Burton 27:22
that yes, they'll say,
That's so kind of you to suggest that that's what would happen for us. You never know. We're kind of strangely accepting people. Oh, okay. So now I now I'm going to try putting it in a whole sentence, Andrea, okay, that no one is going to mistake me for a native Vietnamese speaker. Let's be real. Here we go. Okay. So how did you eat for growing up,
Andrea Nguyen 27:49
I found in Vietnam before my family came here. And we mostly ate it out. So like my first memory of eating was in a little shop that one of my fair parents favorite sale shops in Saigon. And it was very old school with like wooden benches and low tables. And I sat there I was running five or six. And I polish off an entire little bowl by myself with chopsticks, and you know, spoon like double henlow Oh, yeah. Oh my gosh, and they were so proud. But when we came to America, it was really like this thing of where, you know, there are no more foul shops or foul vendors to go to. So we made it and my mom would make it on the weekend. And we would have on Sunday mornings after church, and we were Catholic. And so you know, the church, you know, when I was announced coffee or doughnuts in, you know, the rec call meeting hall, whatever my parents would be like, no, we're going home. We don't eat coffee, and you know, drink coffee and donuts in the morning where you had our coffee, we're going home for five. And so my mom would line us up in an assembly line. And the girls of course, my brother didn't really have to do much. And so she would then put us through the paces to assemble bowls for the seven members of the family. And we each had a little task. And my mom's job was to verify the final flavors of the broth and then ladle it on. So she had her own little, you know, restaurant at home. And was
Matthew Amster-Burton 29:31
she making broth from scratch? Yes,
Andrea Nguyen 29:33
she sure was. Yeah. And she you know, she did a lot of things with scratch because she was like, You can't you know those you were would you you just need these bones and spices and time. And she doesn't you know, she she never did like the whole overnight. You know, similar thing I've asked her about that. And I mentioned the overnight simmer because there have been people have come to me and they've said, Oh my God, if you make fall, you got to do an overnight summer I heard it's like really long and hard. And I asked my mom, she was no, never had to do that. Because we're always making a small batch.
Right? She would she so you know, in thinking of the schedule of the day, which she started before you left for church.
Andrea Nguyen 30:24
She actually made it on Saturday. Okay, okay, so she would make it on Friday or Saturday, and then she would refrigerate the broth. And then the noodles. She likes the boiler noodles, so she'll boil her noodles before we went off to church and that she said everything she prepped all the garnishes and the toppings. Granted, you have to understand my mom's a northern Vietnamese cook. And so her garnishes were minimal. No bean sprouts. No Thai basil. We had mint, and chilies. And that was it. So her missing class was relatively simple. So it was cooked. brisket, or Chuck. And then her garnishes of thinly sliced yellow onion, cilantro, and green onions and black pepper. And she always put a little MSG in our broth to Uh huh.
So what are some of the differences between Hanoi style or northern style and Saigon style for
Andrea Nguyen 31:23
sure, pho originated in and around Hanoi. So the capital, and Hanoi is a very traditional, conservative, culturally oriented place. And the bowls are smaller, the portions are smaller, and the broth is salty, more than sweet. And they're old school. They're just like, it's about the broth. You put too much into this broth, you're going to mess it up, because I've been working on this for a long time. And it is perfection. Now that's very old school, you go to the south when FFO really proliferated after the split in Vietnam in 1954, between North and South Vietnam, according to the Geneva court, because Vietnam was in the middle of a lot of geopolitics. During the middle of the last century, a lot of Northerners went to the south, they decided they wanted to flee and live in a more, you know, place with more democracy, relatively more democracy. So anyway, we went to Southern Vietnam, and we're talking about Saigon style versus Hanoi salvo. So you you saw the bowls get bigger because southerners live large. There's economic opportunity in southern Vietnam. There's also cultural progressiveness. People are easygoing. I mean, it's very strange. If you think about it, like the North northern Southern dichotomy, like I live in Northern California. And I grew up in Southern California and Southern California is kind of like more easygoing, Northern California is like, Oh, you know, we have our standards, you know, things are precious in Southern California, like, yeah, whatever, we got the warmth, and the sunshine. So like, wherever you are, there's northern Southern dichotomy,
Matthew Amster-Burton 33:19
Andrea Nguyen 33:21
Yeah, so in the south, things got really crazy. So on top of the, the cooked meat, they added all these other different cuts. And granted in northern Vietnam, you know, for progress beyond just cook sliced meat, but also to raw sliced meat. But in the south, then you have the addition of all these other items, all these other cuts, that and and so when you go to a Vietnamese flower shop, and you get the special that that'd be a goal. That's like the works, you know, and you get like the big bowl that they describe as cellula or the train bowl. That's Southern style. And when you get the large pile of garnishes, you know with different herbs and being spouts that totally Southern style and they throw whatever herbs they want in there. In the US, we only get cou lancero and Thai basil. But in if you go to Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City now you'll just see this voluptuous mound of herbs, different kinds, like there could be five, six different kinds of jobs.
You know, I think I've only ever encountered Saigon style then are there are there places that specialize in Hanoi style in the US or do we need to make it at home? Well,
Andrea Nguyen 34:43
I make it at home I because I like to tinker things but even when I make I know it's alpha at home like what what how do I define that there's there tends to be a space called black cardamom and They like to use dry seafood in the broth and not much to blend with the beef bones. And sometimes they'll also be beef bones and pork bones in the broth. And I just, you know, you guys, it's like I just love like brisket, fatty briskets thinly sliced fatty brisket. And so I will just go for thinly sliced cooked brisket noodles and mitts on my yard and just go it that way. Add it that way. But the other thing is that so despite what I said about the conservative style, Northern fall, they have changed. So when I went to research for the fall cookbook, you know, this was like five years ago. I was like, what's up with like, these jars are thinly slice garlic and vinegar. That's on every like phone, table shop table in, in and around Hanoi. And also they would eat their father with the Chinese donut, the yo Tao, the killers, right? I'm like, What's up with that? Like you're putting it down? You're putting a donut.
Matthew Amster-Burton 36:16
You can swear on our show. It's okay. Yeah.
Andrea Nguyen 36:19
So I thought, What is with and then sometimes it was squeezed a little very ripe lime. So it's more like a Meyer lemon in there. And then a green line. So it's a softer tartness. And I put what is with up with all of these things. And I interviewed people, some people were my age. So late 40s. And some people were older, late 50s. And they're like, Oh, well, this is this, how it's been for years. And so when there was a shortage of like noodles, for example, during the whole Vietnam War when the country was still split and two people innovated and so like there were some people who came up with the whole like, hey, let's put, you know, some some Chinese doughnut some yo telkwa aids, what we call it, those those Yotel in Vietnamese, and they add a certain kind of richness. Yeah. And then I don't and then the guard this slice garlic and vinegar as this this little bit of pungent Tang. And I don't know when that came about, but people like oh, yeah, I grew up with it. So yeah, I mean, I've been away from Vietnam since the mid 70s. So what do I know? And the line it was just like, Oh, yeah, you know what, sometimes we have that. So there there's plenty of room for wiggle.
Matthew Amster-Burton 37:37
Yes. So like these regional variations aren't like things that were like headed down, you know, a century ago. It's set in stone. They're like things that are continuing to evolve. It sounds like
Andrea Nguyen 37:46
but you still have regional fight. Yeah, of course. Because the Northerners will say, we don't like our broth. Sweet. Don't you put Sriracha and hoisin sauce directly into the bowl? We're, you know, we're not going to put meatballs and everything. You know, we're just going to stay simple and true to our abroad. And so when I was interviewing my cousin who's the same age as I am, and she's a very well to do good cook in Hanoi, I said, so what's up with the MSDS shows? Oh, I don't use MSG. And I said, Oh, really? No, no, no, I don't like a sweet broth. It makes everything sweet because in Vietnamese, we one of the terms for MSG is both not which means sweet powder. Okay, it's like I don't use that. But I put sugarcane in my broth was like really you know like a sweet huh? And she said no, I don't
Matthew Amster-Burton 38:48
love it. So I have never made foot home and I have your book sitting on my shelf and have read it many times and have it cooked Can you cut it talk me through like get me get me like feeling confident to make my first homemade foot.
Andrea Nguyen 39:08
So the book is written for folk cooks have various levels and interests and so you can make it's not an instant file but a nearly instant file by simply doctoring up canned broth. Okay, so that it starts out in that master photo chapter, which was like simple recipes. So you know if you just want to get your feet wet, you dip your toes in Timko broth making you can just open up Kansas Swanson broth or a box you know and like doctored up they teach you how to do that. And let's say you want something that's a quick fall but not so elaborate. But you got a pressure cooker. I do so you can use a pressure cooker. As stove top pressure cooker is what that book was written for but on my website Viet well kitchen calm I haven't instructions on how to tweak it for the instant pot because there is it pots are slightly different. or multi cookers electric multi cookers are slightly different than the pressure cookers that you use on top of the stove, the old school ones that go you know, make all that noise and and potentially blow up but they don't blow up anymore. Thank God. So, so the broth that you make from the pressure cooker is super clear. Yeah, no cloudiness. But the flavors are similar to like fine cashmere in the sense that it's super, like, just kind of perfect and velvety.
Matthew Amster-Burton 40:39
Oh, I love that.
Andrea Nguyen 40:41
But if you want more complexity, and layers that you can detect incense on your palate, then you want to do an old school simmer on the stove. And if you're starting out, I would say and you're a meat eater, then go for chicken fall, because you just need a chicken. You don't have to go and gather. Okay. Yeah, I
Matthew Amster-Burton 41:02
think I think yeah, it's like, it's like sourcing the beef bones is like the most daunting part of the process for you, I think.
Andrea Nguyen 41:09
Yeah. And so you don't have to go and find the beef bones, you don't have to go and find the different cuts of meat, you just get yourself a good chicken, and some chicken, you know, parts if you want to have you if you're just like making pressure cooker fall just get yourself a chicken. And if you're making an old school stovetop for that you just need to get you know, a chicken with some bones, which are readily available
Matthew Amster-Burton 41:34
that I can do.
Andrea Nguyen 41:35
So that's like it's a simple approach. And then the noodles and stuff. You know, you can just go to the regular supermarket and get that
I have a question about your order. When you go into a restaurant. You mentioned you know, your your mom used brisket, right? But then in Saigon style, there have been all these additional meats thrown in it. What What do you order when you go out and eat?
Andrea Nguyen 42:01
Well, first, I look for a flower shop that really is like making fall. Like that's most of them. What they do is you know, like how nowadays you go to a flower shop and they go oh gosh, you know, the menu is like boom, boom, boom, because, right? Like so many pages long and on top of file, they're making boon and they're making right you know, salads and all that. And if I'm going to a foul shop that that I'm thinking that their northern style, their names would be like fall Hanoi or fall back. Back knees north. Okay, so yeah, so
Matthew Amster-Burton 42:36
but either back in in Seattle
Andrea Nguyen 42:39
there exactly, but they make their fall Southern stuff.
Matthew Amster-Burton 42:43
Yeah, kind of thoughts. Yeah.
Andrea Nguyen 42:46
So it's it's, it's like they got inspiration but it's really Southern so so you know it but I try to like just zoom in you know, and I so I picked my place choices place to go and I like if I can control myself, I will just get we cooked beef. But I'll get it maybe with like the tripe and and other cuts of meat along with the brisket. And I'm just really feeling very just like I want to old school. I'm just going to order a fatty biscuit. Yeah, Maddie cook biscuit and just go there. And if I want to be like, I want to taste all the textures. I'll get the depth Be it so it's like a mood thing. Yeah, I stopped ordering the rare beef. Beatrice does. A lot of times. It's the super lean I around. Yep. That's like getting wet than cardboard. paper to me.
Yeah, it's true. It's it's not a lot of flavor. It's sort of a one one note flavor.
Andrea Nguyen 43:49
It is it's inexpensive, super easy to spin the slice, you know on a meat slicer once you've like frozen the thing at home though, when I have where beef, I'm going to choose like one of my favorite steak cuts which is bottom sirloin and I get it marbley or I'll use a our top sirloin something that's like got some flavor to it, you know, filet a lot of people like filet but fillet is very tender. It's not very beefy. I want something with some like says I'm beef
Matthew Amster-Burton 44:22
and how about the you mentioned this in the book that how do you use the hoists in and chili sauce if at all when you order because like I started out by throwing it into the bowl and I was like I you know I feel like now I'm not really getting the flavor of the broth anymore. So then I kind of stopped using it. And then I read your book and I was like oh here's an idea. Can you tell us about what you like to do with the sauces
Andrea Nguyen 44:45
You did? So I when you sit down at a Photoshop there are those they can container that holds the the chopsticks and the spoons. There's also a little well where they keep the small dipping sauce dishes. Okay, so you take one of those little dipping dodges This is where each one each person and then you put a yin yang kind of design of poison. And sure you watch it and then I mean not yin yang but i mean you know what I mean? Yes What it down and and then when you're eating your animal protein from the bowl, you dip that in there. I particularly love meatballs and that combo, so you're getting a salty, sweet spicy hit of flavors at because once that you put all of that into your bowl, you've completely wiped out all the flavors of the broth because it is very subtle. Anyone who's ever made broth from beef knows that it's a little bit tricky because it's kind of there but kind of not smell the beef Enos from the fat and also like fats good because that is where a lot of the flavor from the broth is. So when I make pho broth at home, I was Lee like a little bit of fat because or and I also save that fat my full fat and I use it to make a pot sticker filling.
Matthew Amster-Burton 46:18
Oh yeah, this this recipe is.
Andrea Nguyen 46:21
Yeah, yeah. Cuz I'm like, you know, bones now cost so much beef bones where you know, we're competing with a bra authors and also pet owners. Yeah. Source bones. And I try to get grass fed beef bones whenever whenever I can. And so that that is like premium stuff, man, you know. And so save it. I think I have a tub from several years ago in my freezer.
Matthew Amster-Burton 46:47
Oh, excellent. tastic Yeah, when I want to really like dig in and be an old man. I will complain about the price of ox tails now like but I started cooking like oxtail for like the cheapest cut you could get and now they are the most expensive.
Andrea Nguyen 47:01
Yes, I was gifted an oxtail recently. Oh, it's in my freezer. And I thought my God, this is gold.
Matthew Amster-Burton 47:09
How I'm gonna start asking for oxtail for my birthday. Oh, God, this was fantastic. I always learned so much from you, Andrea, thank you. Yeah, thank
Matthew Amster-Burton 47:22
you so much. So, Andrew Edwin's latest book is Vietnamese food any day. And she's also the author of the full cookbook and many other great cookbooks. Andrea, is there anywhere. Anything you would like to promote? And where can people find you online?
Andrea Nguyen 47:38
They can find me at my website that will kitchen calm and they can subscribe to the weekly or monthly newsletter and hear from me and never miss anything.
Matthew Amster-Burton 47:47
I'm on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all that good stuff. Excellent. We will link to those things in the show notes. Andrea, thank you so much for coming back on spilled milk. Thank you. Oh, anytime. Thank you, you guys.
Oh, ah, that was so great. I have to say that fuzz is one of those things where I kind of, I guess I have been intimidated to cook it at home. I never think of cooking it at home. And now I'm like, obviously I'm gonna cook it at home.
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:15
No, I'm gonna make I'm gonna make chicken. To start. I'm going to use the instant pod and then I'm going to try and ask someone for some bones for a president.
Okay, great. All right. Well, Matthew, I think it's time to head into sag man sag man, senta,
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:31
let's start with spilled mail.
And this comes to us from listener Benjamin who asks, Do either of you keep salt and pepper shakers on your table? Would you be offended if someone deemed it necessary to add salt to a dish you had prepared? This is a point of contention in our household. So looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Wow, that's a really good question. So I will answer for me.
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:59
Go for it. So you answer for me too. It's fine.
We have a pepper mill on the table. a unicorn brand pepper mill. Do you know what I mean? Those black ones. Those are it's so great.
Matthew Amster-Burton 49:10
Oh, yeah, that's that is my kitchen pepper mill. I've had it forever. And it's great.
That's fantastic. And then we have a little salt dish. It's a ceramic dish that we just keep some Maldon salt in so finishing salt. I don't think I've ever kept a salt shaker on the table because I'm one of those people who even if I have a salt shaker, I pour it into my hand first. Are you that kind of person? Um, yeah,
Matthew Amster-Burton 49:33
I am like, I don't remember the last time I've like shaken salt from a shear onto something. Yeah, like but
how elitist is that is terrible. I feel like we should just cut this part. And sorry, Benjamin. No, no. Yeah,
Matthew Amster-Burton 49:46
we have like classic little diner salt and pepper shakers. The pepper is 17 years old.
Now. Okay, I'm going to forge ahead, Matthew. So here's the thing. I think I'm the person in our household who likes food, the salty So this so it's interesting that you asked this question because it makes me think like it in situations when someone who's eating at my table has put food has put salt on their food. I have I don't, I don't feel offended. I do always notice it though. I know Yeah, like it's like oh god, I do feel that I did something a little bit wrong. Even though I know that salt is such an individual taste but anyway, no, I don't feel offended because I love to add salt to food because I tend to like more salt than other people. I think it's just a totally normal thing to have salt on the table and be able to add it to your food
Matthew Amster-Burton 50:41
Okay, so I'm we don't have a pepper mill like ours or shaker at the table like I don't remember ever applying pepper at the table.
What about fried eggs or scrambled eggs?
Matthew Amster-Burton 50:53
I'll like do that like you know if I'm making scrambled eggs I'll put it in the egg mixture before I cook it for fried eggs or like crack the egg into the pan and then put salt and pepper on top as it's cooking. I guess
that makes sense but I don't do that
Matthew Amster-Burton 51:07
for salt you know unlike you I'm not a coastal elitist at all. You have a variety of salts. Oh, I kept kept it a little little tray near the table. And so you can go grab some some balding flakes off, that's our favorite or we have I think a couple different varieties of fleur de sel. French fleur de sel and a Japanese fleur de sel a couple of other salts there too. I wouldn't say those get used a lot, but they certainly do sometimes. Like one thing one thing I find that I always put salt on at the table and I think other people in my family do too is I love making creamy baked pasta that we talked about on the crusty corners episode from the from the cookbook, cucina cempaka that is a dish where if you put in like enough salt to make it fully seasoned throughout the sauce that feels like gets to feel like too much. I want to like be able to like add some flakes here and there as I go. I don't even know like, what accounts for that.
Hmm, interesting. That was a really good question.
Matthew Amster-Burton 52:04
But yeah, I wouldn't I wouldn't be offended now to go back to pepper like we do keep a waiter on staff at all time to come over with like a two foot long pepper mill and say like the chef recommends freshly ground pepper on that.
I would be very curious to like be a fly on the wall at Benjamin's house at dinnertime. I'm curious about like, like this as an actual point of contention. Like are there arguments? is there is there wrestling?
Matthew Amster-Burton 52:27
Does anyone like How dare you?
Does anyone get their like hand slapped away from the salt
Matthew Amster-Burton 52:34
shaker like a pepper shaker goes flying across the room.
Sounds so exciting.
Matthew Amster-Burton 52:38
Okay. Thank you, Benjamin.
Matthew Amster-Burton 52:41
Thank you for that. Thank you. Thank you for the Benjamins. Wow.
Matthew Amster-Burton 52:46
Well, yeah, we we've been doing this for a while now this show. I mean, this episode, never I just hit the wall just now. It just happened but I'm gonna rally because there's a cute animal that I need to know.
Alright, so here's the deal. Matthew, you have to have your sound on for this one. Okay, don't hit start yet. But I want to tell you this is a Mediterranean Moray el. Well, should I tell you a little bit about the video before? Yeah, I would love that. Okay, so I really love this guy. Ash says that this particular video is too reliant upon the music, that it's like hard to gauge how much of what's great about it is the music and how much of it is the EOL but I think they work perfectly together. And that is part of what makes this eel so cute. And I just want to suggest to you hold on before you begin to get started. I want you to think of this email as like a character actor, okay. Like as though he's been hired like he thinks he's been hired to do a horror movie, but instead he's shown up to this like nature video.
Matthew Amster-Burton 53:50
Do you think this is something that happens to characters character actors a lot that they get hired thinking they're gonna do one thing and they show up and it's something else because i think i think if I were an actor, I'd be pretty upset, but
this guy's a real one trick pony. He's just
Matthew Amster-Burton 54:03
a movie. He was an eel, not a pony. Okay, ah. Oh, I love it.
He just holds that face right? He's just like I'm a horror movie el even though the camera guys clearly like this is a nature video.
Matthew Amster-Burton 54:23
Oh, wow. I can like see like, like the blood further down the eel body like like, Oh, he's
a big boy. Oh, that's
Matthew Amster-Burton 54:31
the whole thing.
That's the whole video. Matthew. Wow. character actor, Mediterranean Moray,
Unknown Speaker 54:37
el I love
Matthew Amster-Burton 54:38
sure that el is alive.
That's what I mean. Like he just writes his face like that. Like he's like, I was hired to be the scary clown.
Matthew Amster-Burton 54:47
Okay, yeah. Do you think he got like scale for that? Get it scale.
I can't hold on. I want to watch the video now again. Okay. Do you think he's cute?
Matthew Amster-Burton 54:56
I think he's very cute. Yeah. When I was a kid, I used to love The eel at the aquarium.
Oh my God look at him sky Look at his face Oh goodness or something he's just stuck
Matthew Amster-Burton 55:09
lock Yeah, he's got he's got yield tetanus it's this this suddenly turned into a very sad sec.
Oh my god. Oh my god I love him. Okay, that's the whole video
Matthew Amster-Burton 55:20
question our electric eels real cuz I haven't thought about them in many years but when I was a kid we used to go to the aquarium and there would be like the electric eel and it would make lights light up when it was like making electricity. And now the more they think about it, the more that I feel like I don't know if there are really animals that make electricity I mean, I know like our muscles run on electricity but not like enough to shock people
know there's there's an electric eel I just googled it for you. Okay, it's a South American fish. And it's not an actual el it's a knife fish
Matthew Amster-Burton 55:55
in a bunk,
it contains it. So it's bodily tissue can make electricity and produce electric discharges.
Matthew Amster-Burton 56:02
Is it like I mean, I can produce discharges? Is it enough to enough electricity like shock a human?
I think so. I already clicked on their very core. I already clicked away from it. Okay, maybe maybe I'll choose maybe that's what happened to the Mediterranean morial. I mean, I understand that South America and the Mediterranean are not in the same place. But maybe the Mediterranean eel got shocked by an electric eel and so that's why it's faces like that.
Matthew Amster-Burton 56:30
Maybe maybe the electric eel was introduced is like an invasive species. Yeah, and shocked and shocked the local Moray not with electricity, but just with it like it's complete ignorance of like local local customs and etiquette. Yeah, he's
just walking around shocking people walking around, because that's what he'll
Matthew Amster-Burton 56:47
do bats. Yeah. Okay. It's time for now. But Wow.
This week for now, but Well, I am recommending a podcast and it's the all fantasy everything podcast. I think I heard about this because one of the hosts David Bori is one of my favorite stand up comics and is also a great guest on other podcasts. And this is a show that is hosted by a group of comedians and sports fans who got tired of doing like fantasy sports and now they do fantasy drafts of for things like anything done sports, like video games, like your favorite gas station foods. And the episode that I listened to, which I absolutely loved was the ultimate post pandemic women in music festival. And like I started listening to this I'm like, Okay, this could be like really good or really cringy it's all gonna hinge on like who their first pick is. And the pigs can be living or dead. And their first pig was Whitney you said I like okay, this is gonna be great. And so like I love this whole episode, and I'm looking forward to listening to other episodes it's called all fantasy everything wherever you get podcasts.
This is amazing.
Matthew Amster-Burton 57:59
Yeah, they also they also picked like not to spoil this whole episode but Tina Turner Hart. Yeah. Beyonce, Missy Elliott like it was it was very absolutely unassailable picks all around
I'll be honest Matthew you and I don't have a lot of overlap in the podcasts we listened to but this one I think I'm actually going to subscribe to
Matthew Amster-Burton 58:20
yeah it's really fun and the hosts the hosts are genuinely funny
well that's it's good to know of a podcast where the hosts are genuinely genuinely funny.
Matthew Amster-Burton 58:29
so anyway, our producer is Abby Cerquitella
Matthew Amster-Burton 58:32
can rate and review us wherever you get podcast please do.
You can also join in the conversation with fellow spilled milk listeners on email@example.com slash are slash everything spilled milk
Matthew Amster-Burton 58:46
when we say fellow listeners they have been designated as milk fellows which is a very prestigious position
what what do our fellows get like what what are they awarded?
Matthew Amster-Burton 58:58
Well they get a chair obviously Oh, chair and the downtown but in this case it's the chair is really just one of those comfy life seat cushions sitting on mine right now. We should could we like start a new next this year's pledge drive start a new level where we said before comfy life seat cushion I think we should it's really I'm sitting on it right now and it is truly life changing
it is it is my butt and my my lower back thank me and comfy life
Matthew Amster-Burton 59:28
Yeah, okay. Again not not a sponsor like I think really it's we're just like angling to get a comfy life sponsored.
Well, this is but this if this works out like my dishwasher angling for a dishwasher thing that will get nothing. Nothing. so comfy life. We love you.
Matthew Amster-Burton 59:45
All right, okay. And until next time, thank you for listening to spilled milk,
the show that's filling your Christmas stocking with ox tails. I'm Matthew Amster-Burton. And I Molly Wizenberg
sound at the door next to me. Oh god, it's June, June you want to come in and say hi to Matthew. Oh my god. Matthew, would you look at? How are you seeing anybody where a trucker hat better than this?
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:00:26
it's so junie you are gonna have to leave in like 30 seconds