Pho. There’s so much expectations attached to this Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup dish. It’s basically the ‘it’ dish of Vietnam. Most likely, when you go to a Vietnamese restaurant, it’s b/c you want to devour the greatly flavored ginormous bowl of steeping hot Pho.
It takes at least a few good 3-4 hrs to make Pho if you can’t afford to spend time making this dish overnight. The secret is in the broth. This is not just a typical your mamma’s chicken broth, it’s a broth that’s been given many hrs of love filled w/ all kinds of exotic ingredients. So, if you know how to make a bowl of Pho, forget it. You can basically make any other Vietnamese dishes, or at least it appears that way.
I am a kind of cook who doesn’t really follow any type of original recipes. Not until I met my husband. His dishes are very original dishes passed down from his mom. I actually learned how to ‘cook’ from him. He is an excellent cook and has a keen taste for many things. My oldest sister is the same way. She is whom I need to give credit for teaching me how to make Pho and Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup).
I made this dish a few weekends ago. I usually start the broth overnight and finish it the next day. This time, I did this in a couple of hours on the same day.
So here it goes. No specific measurements here (I’m a taste as you go person). Just a general idea of how this dish is made.
First I bring all the beef bones, flanks/tendons (optional depending on availability and preference) to a fast hard boil. Dump out the ‘gunk’ from the boil and rinse off the bones and meat. Put bones/meat back into a pot with fresh water and bring back to a boil. After it boils, let it simmer. Removing the gunk from the first boil will help achieve a clear broth.
Into the broth, add one roasted onion. Don’t use red onions b/c their color will bleed into the broth. Also, I keep my onions peeled but whole so they don’t disintegrate.
Next, add a peeled roasted ginger.
Nice clear broth. Oil from the bones/meats are coming to the surface. I usually scoop the oil out as I go but I hear if you leave them until the end, they help seal in the flavors. At this point, I’ve already add salt and sugar.
I also add one packet of pre packaged Pho seasonings. Continue to simmer the broth for 2-3 hrs. Leave this packet whole, don’t empty out the contents into the broth. The flavors in the paper pouch is made to permeate and flavor the broth. Take the pouch out prior to serving.
A few hrs into simmering the broth, add a whole Daikon radish. My sister told me this is the secret ingredient that restaurants use to make the broth sweet. Her mom in law used to work at a Viet. restaurant.
For the last remaining hour, add in the exotic spices. Although these spices are unique to the Pho flavor adding them too early will make the broth too potent and bitter. This combination varies from recipe to recipe but for mine I use a combination of cinnamon sticks, star anise, peppercorns, cardamon, coriander seeds, and cloves.
I slightly toast them over very low heat for about 1 min (while constantly stirring) to release their flavors. If the heat is too high or you toast them for too long, they become bitter.
The spice combination is placed in a wired container and submerged into the broth. You don’t want the bits and pieces to go into the broth, this will help contain them.
Let simmer for the last hr. Taste your broth and see if it needs more salt, sugar, etc. I also add some chicken bouillon.
About 15 mins prior to serving, I add in the beef balls. They are cut into halves.
To prepare the fresh noodles, quickly dip them (approx 10-15 secs) into a pot of boiling water. Drain the noodles (don’t rinse) and place in the serving bowl. If using dry Pho noodles, soak them in warm water in a separate bowl for about 20 -30 mins prior to the quick boil.
Top the noodle with finely cut slices of beef eye round. They will cook once you pour the hot broth over them. Topped w/ julienne red onions, cilantro, and green onions.
The herbs/veggies that always accompany Pho are bean sprouts, Thai basil, coriander, Thai chili peppers/sliced jalapeno peppers, and lime.
There you have it! I yummo bowl of Pho! You can also add tendon, tripe and all different kinds of beef meats into the dish.
Now why go to Vietnamese restaurants when you can make it better at home?! That’s the downside of perfecting this ‘it’ dish!
Til next post, Kellie.