A warning to all that try making Vietnamese pho at home: once you make this, all pho places (except the really really good ones) will probably pale in comparison.
Pho (pronounced ‘phuh’) is a Vietnamese beef noodle soup that uses beef bones and spices to make a flavorful and rich broth. I love pho because of how all the spices (coriander, cloves, cinnamon…) in the bone broth get brightened with herbs like cilantro, mint, basil, and lime. I usually omit sriracha and hoisin sauce but some like to top their noodles with them.
If you make the same quantity according to the recipe below, you will have a lot of broth and noodles, enough to last 2-3 days in my opinion. You can halve the amounts of everything and use a smaller pot.
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen
- 2 onions, rinsed and, halved
- 4" nub of ginger, rinsed and halved lengthwise
- Vegetable oil, for brushing
- 5 pounds of good beef bones, sometimes sold as "soup bones" and you can include a few ribs or chuck with bones in there to enjoy with the meal
- 6 quarts of water
- Cheese cloth and kitchen twine
- Spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tbl coriander seeds, 1 tbl fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 1 cardamom pod, 6 whole cloves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1oz of regular sugar
- Noodles and Toppings
- 2 pounds rice noodles (dried or fresh), the flat thin kind
- Cooked chuck beef from the broth (shredded or thinly sliced), if using
- 1 pound flank, sirloin or filet mignon, sliced as thinly as possible.
- big handful of each: mint, cilantro, Thai basil
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 1 jalapeno (if desired)
- 2 big handfuls of fresh bean sprouts
- Hoisin sauce
- Sriracha hot sauce
- Preheat broiler. Gently rinse onions and ginger. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet and brush lightly with oil. Broil them in the upper third rack of the oven for about 10 minutes until they start to char.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Boil all the beef bones for 10 minutes. Rinse beef bones and add them to a large Dutch oven (make sure this Dutch oven fits all the ingredients - can also halve everything to cook a small portion)
- Add 6 quarts of water to the Dutch oven. Bring this to a boil over high heat then turn heat to medium low and let it simmer. Add to the Dutch oven ginger, onions, spices wrapped in a cheese cloth and tied with kitchen twine, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered on medium low heat for 2-3 hours. Strain broth and taste flavor of broth. If needed, a combination of fish sauce and/or sugar can be added to adjust seasoning.
- Freeze flank, sirloin or filet as thinly as possible. If needed, can freeze for 10-15 minutes beforehand.
- Shred chuck meat from the bones, if using. Wash all herbs, lime, jalapeno, and sprouts and set them on a large platter.
- Bring a separate pot of water to a boil over high heat and prepare noodles according to instructions. Mine takes 45 seconds in water but depends on the type of noodles.
- Fill bowls with noodles and hot soup, then add raw beef. If you're worried your broth isn't hot enough to cook the beef slices, just boil the beef slices briefly to cook before adding. Add herbs at the table. Top with sriracha and hoisin sauce.
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