I ran into my friend and fellow-pho-addict, Jamie, in the wine store last night. We discussed the proportions that go into cooking steel cut oats, made a plan for a playdate and then talked about my pho post, which was when she dropped the bomb -- I forgot about the bean sprouts. Yes, pho should really have bean sprouts, along with the mint and the basil, to add to the amazing balance between hot and cold, spicy and cool, sour and salty... that makes pho so addictive.
Honestly, I did not miss them. Homemade pho is that good, and the basil and mint are such stars.
I'm making it again tonight. I didn't plan to, but there were frozen grass-fed soup bones at the Coop on Friday, and when I got home with them I had ginger in the fridge and it was so easy to just put the ginger and some onion into the oven, and the bones into a pot of water and start making the stock (I actually left it with a lot of water on a low flame overnight, the way my mom does)... and then today I wake up and it's snowing and feels like winter and it's so totally a perfect hot-noodle-soup day, and... it's just so good.
I'll remember the bean sprouts this time.
PS Homemade stocks are also really great because of the minerals that leach out into the broth. (You can add a dash of vinegar or crack the chicken bones to further usher the calcium, magnesium and all their friends out of the bones and into the broth.) Maybe that's one reason homemade-stock-making cultures like in Asia don't need to mess around with milk.