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Phở and Treasure Hunting at an Asian Market in Brisbane

It is a gorgeous Spring morning, a beautiful day to get back to work and routines after a marvelous holiday. I’m in my favorite green armchair armed with tea and dark chocolate gluten-free banana bread to get me through a massive to-do list. Chores are made immeasurably easier with decadent nibbles in between projects.

Over the holidays Bear and I spent a wonderful day exploring various parts of Brisbane with our dear friend Elizabeth. We had such fun scoping out new places for gelato, meandering through beautiful gardens, and taking in grand vistas from stunning overlooks. My favorite spot of all was the Asian market in Inala.

I felt like I had stepped into another world, as if somehow instead of beetling along in Elizabeth’s car, we had boarded a plane for parts unknown.

I loved everything from the chalkboard signage to the buzz of foreign languages around me. Everywhere I looked were beautiful faces from Africa, Russia, Vietnam, China, and a host of other countries.

The food selection was mind-boggling. I couldn’t focus long enough to buy anything at first. I just had to wander happily and, admittedly, slightly dazedly, as I tried to take it all in.

There were mounds of strange fruits, knobbly tubers, and even familiar fruits in unfamiliar hues.

You could smell the strawberries before you saw them and the mangoes and tomatoes were wonderfully plump and perfectly ripe.

I loved the unexpected vignettes that greeted me as I wandered down one shaded lane after another.

Elizabeth is Chinese and was able to explain a lot of the foreign produce we saw, but some of them had even her baffled. I loved chatting with the shopkeepers who were delighted to help me but burst out laughing when they realized they couldn’t remember the English words for any of the foods I pointed to.

I didn’t mind and happily stocked up on mangosteen and longan and could not resist tiny eggplants the size of golf balls. I quickly filled my box with massive bunches of fresh spearmint and a type of basil that looked like a cluster of maple leaves. I found plump sugar snap peas and massive avocados and a fruit that I didn’t recognize but was told was something like mangosteen.

It was wicked fun and so inspiring.

After the markets we headed into tiny little shops stacked floor to ceiling with weird and wonderful things. I found a massive steamer to make gluten-free dumplings (yay!) and more noodles than you can shake a stick at: glassy rice noodles, purple sweet potato noodles, and silvery potato ones. So fun. 🙂

Elizabeth treated us to an exquisitely delicious Vietnamese lunch of fresh spring rolls, sugarcane prawn salad, and my new favorite soup: phở

It looks like a very simple beef noodle soup, but one sip of that gorgeous broth and you are transported to heights of bliss.We kept sipping and savoring, guessing each flavor as it stood out to our taste buds.

I learned that in Vietnam, each family has their own secret recipe for phở that they guard fiercely. The basic recipe consists of dry-roasted spices simmered long and slowly with beef, onion, and garlic. Once fish sauce is stirred in, it’s poured over rice noodles and thinly sliced beef then topped with bean sprouts and fresh basil and/or mint.

I’ve been experimenting with my own version of phở and it keeps getting better. I only use a hint of anise since it’s such a strong flavor, double the onion and garlic because we adore those flavors, and add slices of crunchy snow peas as a topping. Bear likes a bit of soy sauce added to his broth. It has become one of my very favorite comfort foods.

What is the best fresh produce market you’ve ever been to? Do you have a favorite comforting soup?



1 aniseseed pod
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
4 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tsp black peppercorns
8 cups water
2-3 cups stew meat, cubed
1 beef bone, roasted (roasted at 375 F for 30-40 minutes)
2 onions, halved (no need to peel)
6-8 garlic cloves, smashed but not peeled
1-2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt (more, if needed)
2 cups thinly sliced steak (like for stir-fry)
1 package bean sprouts
1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh Thai basil
1 bunch fresh spearmint
1 lemon, quartered


  1. Place first six ingredients in saucepan over medium-high heat. Dry roast, stirring to keep from burning, for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.
  2. In large saucepan combine water, stew meat, roasted beef bone, onions, cloves, and spices. Bring to boil then lower heat and simmer for 2-3 hours until broth is strong and rich. Skim off any froth/fat.
  3. Strain broth through fine mesh sieve and return to pot.
  4. Stir in fish sauce, sugar, and salt and bring to boil.
  5. While broth is heating, boil water and pour over rice noodles. Let sit five minutes then drain well. Divide noodles between 2-4 bowls.
  6. Add sliced steak to broth and simmer until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Remove steak and divide between soup bowls. Pour broth over noodles and steak.
  8. Add bean sprouts, basil, spearmint, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.


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John Gorge - thanks for the Pho menu it’s just great for a vegan diet. I know a doctor from Hawaii who will surely love this. Even if you eat a lot of these, you will never gain much weight. or not gain weight at all.

Krista - I love looking and tasting my way through too, Anne. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

Krista - Oh I can only imagine how wondrous the Parisian markets are, @76b7f5617f998f38e3daf83409eb82fb:disqus 🙂 One day I will experience them. 🙂

Krista - Isn’t it marvelous, @a5d228975c0acb28605887c4423762f4:disqus ? 🙂 I was so delighted by it. 🙂

Krista - I’m so glad you like it too, @breannemosher:disqus I looked at a lot of recipes and tried different variations, but this is the one that suits us. I hope you can make it to suit your taste buds too. 🙂

anne - Wow , lucky to have such and amazing market , cannot imagine it , I love looking round these places and trying new foods, thanks for sharing. The soup sounds so tasty.

Jeanne @ CookSister - I love Borough Market in London, but there is something about Parisian produce markets that makes my heart sing. Love visiting countries where half the produce is totally unfamiliar to me!

Alicia@ eco friendly homemakin - Oh my goodness what an awesome looking market.

Breanne @ This Vintage Moment - Hands down favourite market is Jean Talon in Montreal. But I do so love all the markets I’ve been too and this stirs up memories of the markets we visited in Asia. I love that a smile is the same in any language and it is fun to try and figure out the new produce with a limited vocabulary. =)
We love Pho! I’ve never tried making it, simply because I haven’t had a recipe and haven’t found a good one. We will enjoy bowls of this all winter long! XO

Anupam Chamoli - Thanks Krista, this is my blog address, hope you give your valuable suggestion in my blog 🙂 newzduniya.com

Krista - I’d be delighted to visit your blog, @anupam_chamoli:disqus What is your blog address?

Anupam Chamoli - Thanks Krista, Can u please give your valuable comment in my blog too 🙂

Krista - I’m so glad you’ve found such a delicious restaurant to frequent, @rachelfriesen:disqus 🙂 When my Chinese friend heard of my new diet requirements she said that I would love Vietnamese food. She was right! 🙂

Krista - I hope you like it, @c1f68455b150be0f919edd41134fa950:disqus 🙂 I love all the variations of this delicious soup. 🙂

Krista - Me too, @lizposmyk:disqus 🙂 They are so inspiring. 🙂

Krista - Ohhh, I love Granville Island Market too, @judithworks:disqus 🙂 I especially like taking the tiny water taxi over. 🙂

Krista - I was glad to learn that it wasn’t nearly as hard to make as I’d anticipated, @71eb07213759ab4e5611e1dd9f1df8a7:disqus 🙂 I feel very lucky to be so close to such a marvelous market. 🙂

Krista - Thank you, @anupam_chamoli:disqus 🙂

Krista - I hope you enjoy it, @OrgasmicChef:disqus 🙂 I can’t wait to return to do a bit more exploring. 🙂

Liz Posmyk - Oh, what a wonderful market, Krista! Love these places!

Karin@yumandmore - Love the Pho recipe! must try!

Rachel Friesen - My husband and I have been enjoying a small Vietnamese restaurant that recently opened in our neighbourhood. I’d never had Vietnamese-style soups before, but I’ve very much enjoyed every one on their menu I’ve tried so far. I love the juxtaposition of rich flavourful broths over crisp fresh vegetables. The crunch is very different from the soft root veggies I’m used to in the hearty soups of colder climes, and so refreshing – even in the heat of summer. Thanks for sharing your Phở creation – I just might try it out at home!

Judith Works - My favorite market is Granville Island Market in Vancouver – unless I’m in Rome at the Testaccio Market (they have shoes along with veggies)

Jamie - Great photos and a great market! How lucky you are to live near a city in which you can find both a fabulous Asian market and gelato. I miss that! I love pho and keep promising myself I will make it one day.

Anupam Chamoli - nice blog.. 🙂

Maureen | OrgasmicChef - I can’t wait to check out that market. We have a lot of farmer’s markets but nothing like that up here. 🙂

Krista - How nice to have a stall holder available all week long, @wanderingsheila:disqus ! 🙂 I would love that. 🙂 Where I live the market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays so I always try to get to town then. 🙂

Cathy - I’m not sure that I have a favourite market Krista. When I lived in Italy I made the most of one of the markets and its fresh fruit and veges. Although during the week the same stallholder had a shop in town so I went there as well. You made so many wonderful discoveries at the market Krista. I do like the sound of this soup, it looks like it would taste very delicious 🙂

Krista - That is an incredible market, isn’t it, @d58b26e263bfdbd99d844b965c5cbbfb:disqus ? 🙂 It is an endless source of wonder. 🙂 Garlic potato soup sounds absolutely fantastic. Even on this hot day. 🙂

bellini - I would have to say that my favourite market so far is in Seattle at Pike Place Market. I will never turn down a lovely garlic potato soup.

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