'ph-uh'not 'foe') is a Vietnamese noodle soup that is generally made from beef
or chicken. Personally, I think beef pho (pho bo) is the one that steals the
show and wins most hearts.
When I first started cooking, I decided to create a bucket list of things I wanted to learn how to cook... And learn how to make it freakin' delicious! =) People who know me are not surprised that pho was number one on my list. I LOVE pho. Nothing warms my belly and soul like a hot, steaming bowl of pho (it's equivalent to the chicken noodle soup effect).
I've made pho bo a few times before, but I always felt like it wasn't up to par. After some practice, however, I came up with a recipe that made me do a happy dance! And if you ever take a stab at the following recipe, I hope it makes you want to sing and dance as well.
Pho Bo Recipe: (Makes about 8 bowls)
for the broth:
-5 pounds beef bones
-1 pound ox tail
-2 pounds boneless chuck roast
-2 medium yellow onions, halved
-4 inch piece of ginger, halved
-DIY pho spice packet (5 star anise, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 6 whole cloves, 1 black cardamom seed, (1) three-inch cinnamon stick)
-8 quarts of water
-1/4 cup of fish sauce, plus more if needed
-A piece of yellow rock sugar, half the size of a baseball
-1 1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
-2 bags of rice noodles -- I prefer the fresh noodles over the dried noodles
-Raw, thinly sliced flank steak
-Vietnamese meatballs (generally found in the frozen food section of Asian grocery stores)
-Lime, cut into wedges
-Raw thinly sliced onions
-Green onions, sliced
-Large stock pot with lid
-Large-ish mesh ball tea steeper (like this one), or some type of linen bag for your spices to steep in.
1. You need to char the onions and ginger, so turn your oven on and set it on broil, high. Move your rack to the second highest position. Place your onions and ginger on a cookie sheet, then place it in the oven. After the onions and ginger have a nice char (about five minutes), flip them over and let the other side char. It's okay if some burnt/blackness develops.
2. Heat your skillet on medium-low. Then add your spices (5 star anise, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 6 whole cloves, 1 black cardamom seed, (1) three-inch cinnamon stick) and roast them until they turn fragrant. Move your spices around so that they do not burn. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Place the spices in your tea mesh.
3. Parboiling your bones and ox tail is the next critical step if you want your soup to be clear and scum free. To parboil your boils, fill a large pot with water and then bring it to a boil. Add the bones and ox tail. Let the pot boil vigorously for 10-15 minutes. Then drain the water and rinse the pot, bones and ox tail under cool water to get rid of any of the scum/impurities.
4. Place the bones, ox tail, onions, ginger, rock sugar, kosher salt, fish sauce, chuck roast, and spice packet into the stock pot. Then fill it up with 8-10 quarts of water. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow the pot to simmer for 1.5-2 hours uncovered.
5. After this first 1.5-2 hours of simmering, take out the boneless chuck roast and put it aside. Then taste your broth. If it is very bland, then add an other tablespoon of fish sauce, 1 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, or small piece of the rock sugar (whatever you feel is lacking). Cover your pot, and let it simmer.
the broth to broth to simmer for 6 to 8 hours. (I generally taste my broth
ever hour or two during this period. And I add more fish sauce, kosher salt, or
rock sugar until broth is to my liking. The flavor of the broth develops the
longer the broth simmers, so I generally don't go too heavy on the fish sauce,
kosher salt, or rock sugar when I'm adjusting the broth.) Also remember to skim
your broth for any nasty stuff during this period.
After 8 hours of simmering, you'll be ready to eat!
***Notes: The 'greasiness' of your pho can depend on the amount of fat/marrow that the bones you used contained. Some people will make their pho the day before they want to serve it. They do this because it's easier to scoop out all of the fat after you cool and refrigerate it since all of the fat will solidify on the top the broth. If you're too impatient, then just know that you'll need skim the top of your broth for excess fat once you're done cooking it.
your pho bowls:
1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions (When using fresh noodles, I like to cook the noodles al dente because the hot broth cooks it further).
2. Slice your boneless chuck roast that you set aside earlier.
3. To assemble your bowls, place the cooked rice noodles, then layer it up with the raw flank steak (don't worry, the boiling soup will cook the meat), meatballs, sliced chuck roast, onions, cilantro, etc.
4. Bring your stock pot to a broil. Ladle the soup over the noodles and meat. Garnish your soup with basil, bean sprouts, jalapeños etc. You can add sriracha to make it more spicy or hoison sauce to make it sweeter.
5. Enjoy! Slurping is highly encouraged when eating pho!