Have you ever heard of and/or eaten Vietnamese Pho? (pronounced "fuh"). We first started making it about 12 years ago, and really enjoy it. The broth is a labor of time and love, but is so worth it. Pho is the perfect thing to make on a chilly day, as the broth simmers on the stovetop for around 8 hours. Pho spices are a mix of: dried chili pepper, whole fennel, a cinnamon stick, whole coriander, whole star anise and whole cardamom. I like to put the spices in a little spice bag. Fresh ginger and onions are charred under your broiler. The charred ginger and onion imparts a great flavor and color to the broth. The bones are par-boiled to help remove impurities and ensure a clean, beautiful broth. Then, you put all the broth ingredients in a stock pot and simmer the broth for another 7 or 8 hours, skimming impurities off the top of the broth as needed.
The beautiful, completed Pho!
The rich broth during simmering and skimming.
Various yummy toppings!
Every Pho bowl is different and delicious!
For the broth
- 2 large yellow onions, halved
- 4 - 6 inch piece fresh ginger
- 6 to 10 beef leg bone slices (the bones with more marrow make a tastier pho)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- a spice bag with:
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
- 1 tablespoon whole fennel seed
- 5 whole star anise
- 1 whole cardamom pod
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 dried chili pepper
For the soup
- About 1 pound very (very!) thinly sliced flank steak, London broil, sirloin or eye of round steak
- Rice noodles
- fresh lime wedges
- fresh cilantro
- fresh snow peas
- fresh greens
- fresh bean sprouts
- sliced fresh red pepper
- sliced onion
- sliced green onions
- Anything else you'd like!
- condiments such as Sriracha sauce, plum sauce and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
For the broth
- First, char your onions and ginger. This helps sweeten and mellow the ingredients. Raise your oven rack to the highest setting and preheat broiler. Place halved onions and halved ginger on cookie sheet, and brush some cooking oil on the cut sides. Broil on high until charred, turn over and continue to char - this should take 15 to 20 minutes total. Set aside.
- Next, parboil the bones. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add the bones and keep the heat on high. Parboil bones for a good 10 minutes in rapidly boiling water to get rid of impurities - they will look like a grayish/whitish foam floating up to the surface. After 10 minutes, dump out all of the water, rinse out your pot, rinse the bones, and refill with 6 quarts of clean, cool water and the bones. This will help create a clear, delicious tasting broth. Bring the bones and water back to a boil, and lower the heat to a simmer - you really don't want this to boil any more. Using a ladle or fine mesh strainer, remove any scum that rises to the top. Now, to your pot (that has the parboiled bones and clean water in), add the charred onions, the charred ginger, the sugar, salt, fish sauce and the spice bag. As the broth is simmering, you might be able to see some more of that "scum." Try to use a fine strainer or a spoon and strain out what you can. Simmer the broth for 5 hours. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove the onions, ginger, bones and any bits of onion skin, ect... that might be floating in the broth. Return the broth to the pot and taste - add more fish sauce, salt, sugar, ect... until the broth the flavor shines. Continue to simmer for another 2 hours or so. Now, time to make the soup!
To put your soup bowls together:
- Make sure your broth is at a good simmer. Have the rest of your soup ingredients ready at the table - the very thinly sliced meat, the rice noodles, the fresh salad ingredients and the sauces. Place raw meat slices in serving bowls and quickly add the simmering broth. Add rice noodles, fresh salad and sauces to taste.
- Time to start enjoying! The thing we love about this is the meal is able to evolve - feel like a little more cilantro? Add a bit. Add some more fresh bean sprouts, or a squeeze of Sriracha or Sweet Chili Sauce.