A Taste of Vietnam (Homemade Pho Recipe)
Pho, a popular Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat.
Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam, and we thought it would be a wonderful idea to try to bring the experience home!
For the broth:
2 medium yellow onions, slice in half (skin on)
4-inch piece of ginger, sliced in half
5 lbs. beef soup bones (leg and knuckle bones recommended – mine were back rib bones and 1.5 lbs. neck marrow bones)
5 whole star anise
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 black cardamom pod
1 lb. beef chuck, rump, brisket, cross rib roast (2×4-inch pieces)
1 1/2 tbsps salt
4 tbsps fish sauce
1 oz. rock sugar or regular granulated sugar
for the bowls
1 1/2 -2 lbs. banh pho fresh or dried rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
1/2 lb. flank, eye of round, sirloin, etc., sliced thin against the grain
1 yellow onion, sliced thin, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
3-4 green onions, sliced (green part only)
black pepper, ground
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups fresh mint
3 cups fresh basil (Thai basil, if you can get it)
2 cups mung bean sprouts
Thai chilis, sliced
1-2 limes, cut into wedges
Make the broth:
If broiling, lightly grease the cut sides of the yellow onion halves and the ginger halves and broil for 10-15 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet, turning over half way through the cooking time. Alternatively, you can char the onions and ginger over a grill or gas flame until blackened and soft. Remove blackened parts with a knife. Set aside. Place the beef bones in your cook pot and cover with cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain the water off and rinse the scum off the bones. Scrub the residual protein from the pot and rinse it out. Place the bones back in the same pot and add 6 quarts of water (I added 4 quarts because of my pressure cooker capacity) and bring it to a boil with the lid off. Skim the protein foam off the top as it boils for a few minutes.
Add the anise, cloves, cinnamon, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom pod, beef, salt, fish sauce, and sugar to the pot. Seal the lid on and set the pressure cooker to high (if you have a choice). Once the pressure cooker reaches pressure, start the timer and let it cook for an hour. Turn the heat off after an hour and let the pressure cooker release naturally (don’t open it, don’t run it under cold water, just let it cool on its own). This is called natural release. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you’re fine to let the broth simmer uncovered for 3 hours after adding all of the spices and flavorings. Andrea recommends removing the beef cut from the pot when it is done to your liking (soak in cold water for 10 minutes, drain, then cover and refrigerate). I leave the beef in my pressure cooker until the end because you can’t be removing stuff from a pressure cooker willy nilly. When the pressure cooker releases, strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve into a large pot.
*Note: I made two batches of broth from the same bones because my pressure cooker has an 8-quart capacity and you aren’t supposed to fill them more than two-thirds full of liquid. After the first batch was done, I strained out the liquid and put everything (including the cut of beef) back into the pot. I topped it with another 4 quarts of water, sealed the pressure cooker, and let it cook for an hour with natural release as before.
To de-fat the broth you can refrigerate it until the fat solidifies, removing the disk of fat and discarding it. Or you can pour warm broth into a gallon ziploc bag, seal it, set it over a large pot (keep it low so the broth doesn’t squirt all over you), and cut open a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners. The broth will empty into the pan and the fat will sit at the top. As the liquid drains from the bag, the fat layer will begin to lower toward the corner. Pinch off the corner before any fat gets through and discard. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the broth for later use. Pick any meat from the bones and reserve with the beef cut. Discard the bones, spices, and aromatics.
Serve the soup: Place desired amount of rice noodles in a large, deep bowl. Add sliced raw beef, sliced cooked beef, thinly sliced yellow onion, sliced green onions, and black pepper to the bowl. Ladle hot broth over the noodles until the bowl is almost full. Garnish with cilantro, mint, basil, mung bean sprouts, chilis, lime wedges, Sriracha hot sauce, and hoisin sauce. Serves 8.