I must admit that even though I’ve been a Chef for almost 20 years, I had not tried Pho until I was in my early thirties, but once I did… I mean come on, it’s amazing and so comforting. It’s honestly one of my favorite foods and my go to if I’m traveling for work and want a nice hot meal at the end of the day. I introduced my family to it and they love it as much as I do.
Pho broth is kind of a personal thing with everyone having their own secret recipe and special touches, some broth bases are amazing with stewed beef bones which have been roasted first and many good restaurants will keep a small amount of their broth every day after it’s stewed and concentrated all day and add it to the next days broth, they do this over and over intensifying and adding complexity to their broth every time. Yum!
My recipe is fairly simple and I will often make a large batch of broth and keep it in the fridge making just the noodle, beef and veg. elements as needed throughout the week for a quick meal.
2 Cups Beef Broth
2 Cups Chicken Broth
4 Cups Water
1/2 Tbsp Dried Ginger or 1 Tbsp Fresh, peeled and cut into coins
1/4 cup Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce or Mushroom Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp. Pho Paste (see picture)
3-5 Dried Shitake Mushrooms (see picture)
4-5 Star Anise (see picture)
3 Tbsp Fish Sauce (see picture)
1/2 Onion, cut into wedges
Everybody in the pool for this one, it’s super simple, just add everything to the pot, set the heat to med/low, stir a few times but basically let it simmer for atleast an hour but 2 or three is better. If it boils too much or evaporates and concentrates too much just add some hot water to even out the flavour. Strain the broth, discard the solids and bring the liquid back to a boil when you’re ready to serve.
Typically Beef Pho is served in a huge bowl with lots of broth and inside is a simple combination of rice noodles and rare beef but you can also get the “special” bowls that include tripe and beef balls etc… On the side you will be served a plate with bean sprouts, thai basil and lime wedges and you can add sauces such as sambal olek (a spicy chili paste) hoisin sauce ( a sweet dark sauce with a bit of soy for salt) and Sriracha (well, you know). I tend to like the simple rare beef and noodles and then I add broccoli, sometimes julienne carrots and green onion when I make it at home. Make sure you have the sides available, they can make or break a good bowl of Pho and if you’re serving a crowd, allow them to add their own just as they would in the restaurant, I find everyone is a bit different.
Inside the Soup
The amount you will need depends on how much you want to eat and how many people you are feeding. In general, one cup of cooked noodles and 3-4 oz. of beef is sufficient per person.
Rice stick noodles
Outside round or brisket beef
Broccoli cut into bite size pieces
Thai Basil (fresh only) regular fresh basil can be substituted
Fresh lime wedges
It’s best to prep the sides ahead of time with the exception of the rice noodles which should be made right before serving. Slice very thin slices of raw beef with a very sharp knife or ask your butcher to do this, keep refrigerated until needed. Get a large bowl of ice water ready and place it next to the stove. Have a pot of boiling water going on the stove and blanch your broccoli by placing the bite size pieces into the boiling water for about one minute and then immediately scooping it out with a large slotted spoon and placing it into the ice water. This will “shock” the broccoli and stop the cooking allowing it to maintain it’s bright green color and crunchy texture. Pick through the bean sprouts to ensure only plump, fresh sprouts are available, wash them and place them in a paper towel, roll them into the paper towel to keep them nice and dry and place back in the fridge. You can place whole stems of basil on a plate to serve to guests or pluck each leaf and place in a bowl, Basil does not like cold, so just keep these on the counter. Place lime wedges in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until needed. Have your clean bottles of sauces available for guests or place them in bowls and offer spoons to scoop it out for their soup.
To assemble the soup, have all the bowls lined up and ready to go; Use the water that you blanched the broccoli in to boil the rice noodles.Cook noodles only for 2-3 minutes until soft and easy to bite through, strain and portion about one cup of noodles into each bowl, ladle 2-3 cups of hot broth over the noodles. Place the thinly sliced pieces of raw beef on top of the noodles in the centre of the bowl, try not to lay them on top of each other but rather in a shingle pattern. The heat from the broth will cook the beef to a beautiful rare. Serve immediately as you create them and allow your guests to customize their bowls.
Guests love to feel like they’ve been included at parties and this is a great, interactive dinner party idea that I hope you try. Enjoy!