Pho is definitely one of my favourite foods. It's warming, delicious, and perfect for a cold wintry day (or any day, for that matter). For those of you who aren't familiar with Pho, it's a Vietnamese noodle soup, usually served with beef or chicken. The soup includes rice noodles and is often served with mint leaves, lime, and bean sprouts. What is important about Pho, though, is getting the broth right. Generally, the broth is made by simmering beef bones (but I've made it without and it's fine), charred onion, charred ginger, and spices. Once you've got this down pat, the rest is easy.
Whether or not you've eaten Pho before, I highly recommend this recipe. I've made it several times now--always with extra broth for freezing--and it always seems to satisfy my Pho cravings. Enjoy!
Vietnamese Beef Pho
recipe adapted from Steamy Kitchen
1 onion, halved
2-inch nub of ginger, halved lengthwise
3 quarts water
1 package Pho spices (1 cinnamon stick, 1/2 tbsp. coriander seeds, 1 tbsp. fennel seeds, 3 whole star anise, sprinkle of cardamom, 3 whole cloves--in mesh bag)
3/4 tbsp. salt
1/8 cup fish sauce
1/8 cup agave nectar
1 lb. dried rice noodles
1/4 lb. flank, london broil, sirloin, or eye of the round, sliced thinly
big handful of mint, cilantro, and/or basil
1 lime, cut into wedges2-3 chili or jalapeno peppers, sliced2 big handfuls of bean sproutsHoisin sauceSriracha hot sauce
1. Turn your broiler on high and move rack to the highest spot. Place ginger and onions on baking sheet. Brush just a bit of cooking oil on the cut side of each. Broil on high until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn over and continue to char. This should take a total of 10-15 minutes.
2. Fill a large pot with cool water. Boil water, and then add ginger, onion, spice packet, agave, fish sauce, salt, and any beef you'd like to cook through ahead of time. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the beef meat and set aside (you'll be eating this meat later in the bowls) Continue simmering for another 1 1/2 hours. Strain broth and return the broth to the pot. Taste broth and adjust seasoning - this is a crucial step. If the broth's flavor doesn't quite shine yet, add 2 teaspoons more of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a bit of agave). Keep doing this until the broth tastes perfect.
3. Slice your flank/london broil/sirloin as thin as possible - try freezing for 15 minutes prior to slicing to make it easier. Remember the cooked beef meat that was part of your broth? Cut or shred the meat and set aside. Arrange all other ingredients on a platter for the table. Your guests will 'assemble' their own bowls. Follow the directions on your package of noodles - there are many different sizes and widths of rice noodles, so make sure you read the directions. For some fresh rice noodles, just a quick 5 second blanch in hot water is all that's needed.
4. Bring your broth back to a boil. Line up your soup bowls next to the stove. Fill each bowl with rice noodles, shredded cooked beef and raw meat slices. As soon as the broth comes back to a boil, ladle into each bowl. the hot broth will cook your raw beef slices. Serve immediately. Guests can garnish their own bowls as they wish.
Makes 4 (generous) servings.
image via the kitchn