How many times has this happened to you?
You want a bowl of pho. You don’t want to go out. There is virtually nothing fresh in your kitchen.
Happens to me on a weekly basis. So I cheat sometimes (as with Tom Yum Goong), like the lazy Asian that I am.
Here is what I did have: steady supply of rice noodles in the pantry, long beans sent by Mom, onions, garlic, some rotisserie chicken, and this magical ingredient:
Instant beef flavor. I don’t know what they put in this stuff, but it’s miraculous.
Add this to boiling water with onions and garlic; season just how you like it with sugar, fish sauce, a little lime juice, and infused chili oil… That’s as close as you’re going to get without time or ingredients to make proper broth.
I also added fried onions and pickled cabbage for extra zing. Garnish with whatever vegetables are in the refrigerator (in my case, kale, tomatoes, and long beans). For the meat eater, I shredded up some rotisserie chicken and called it a day.
I hope you are able to figure out the perfect seasoning ratio because I didn’t write down my measurements. Good luck!