Recipe of the Week: Wild Turkey Pho

I am a 5th generation Oklahoman. My wife is ethnically Vietnamese. Our children are happy little mongrels with Eurasian eyes and Oklahoma accents. We often produce fusion recipes consisting of local ingredients and traditional Vietnamese ideas.

Wild turkey spring season is almost upon us, and I would like to share one of our fusion recipes with the blog.

Pho (pronounced fuh-uh with two syllables NOT foe with a long O and one syllable) is a simple soup dish with numerous health benefits. In its simplest form it is broth made from bones and simple herbs. The bones provide minerals and collagen for bone and joint support. The herbs provide a medicinal element (anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, et cetera). The entire concoction can be considered as a prescription in traditional Chinese medicine, and ideally the herbs should be tailored to medical needs and not to palette preference.

I shoot my turkeys with a small cal rifle, because I’m not fond of eating bird shot or trying for a head shot. I do not pluck feathers or attempt to save skin. Gut it. Remove head and feet.

Drop the bird into a large Dutch oven or crock pot, along with a few carrots, celery, an onion, garlic, and maybe an apple. Salt well, and slow cook until meat becomes tender. You may have to separate the bird depending on its size. If so, use legs and wings and save the breast for Chia Gio (Viet Eggrolls, next time).

Remove most of the tender meat and veggies into a bowl and set aside. Place bones and drippings into a stock pot, along with a handful of coriander, one cinnamon stick, three star anise, a half handful of fennel seed, and a half handful of cloves. I do not really measure ingredients and neither do the Vietnamese grandmas who make this on Sunday afternoon in homes throughout OKC. Use what you have. Experiment.

Fill the remainder of the pot with fresh cold water and boil for at least an hour. Honestly, I think the longer it boils the better it is. You may have to add water to counter evaporation. Taste for saltiness.

Rice noodles, known as Banh Pho, can be purchased dried or fresh here in OKC and most any place with an Asian market. Be careful to follow directions. It’s very easy to turn these into mush. If you don’t have access to rice noodles, make your own egg noodles with wheat flour, egg, and water, just like grandma does. I use them frequently, as do many Vietnamese here.

Noodles go into your bowl. The broth goes on top. Add turkey and cooked veggies. Garnish with fresh onions and herbs. Commonly used are cilantro and basil, but I frequently make use of wild herbs, such as dandelion and curly dock (good stuff). Use what you like and what is available.

Finish with a squeeze of lime and some chili paste, too, if you can handle it. Love your neighbor and share! Say fuh-uh not foe; it’s excruciating to hear it incorrectly. Next time I will share Viet Spring Rolls/Eggrolls with wild turkey. Shalom y’all. – C.B.

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