What better way to fight the freezing weather than a bowl of steamy, hot beef pho.
Just when I think it’s spring and about to pull out my flip flops, another cold, snow storm hits. My friend Mimi has been asking for this recipe for some time now. I guess it’s a good excuse to stay indoors and make pho. (BTW, it’s not pronounced FO. It’s closer to FUH. Say it like a question. Thank you!)
Pho originated in Hanoi, Vietnam. There are many variations of pho and each Asian region has it’s own interpretation of it. Most restaurants serve Saigon pho. Pho can be made with beef, chicken, or other meats. This is my recipe for Beef Pho.
Serves 6-8 bowls
(All ingredients available at Southeast Market)
8 quarts water (I use a 10 quart pot)
1 lb Beef Bones (or beef ribs)
1 lb Oxtail (optional but produces richer broth)
1 large slightly charred onion
1 package Pho Herbal Mix
1-2 boxes of Pho Spice Cube (4 cubes in a box)
1 cup oyster sauce
1/3 cup fish sauce
2 teaspoon salt
Fresh Pho Noodles
Sliced Beef (Eye of Round, Flank, or Tenderloin)
Asian Beef Balls
*Vegetarians: Use the Vegetarian (CHAY) Pho Spice Cube and vegetable broth.
Start by rinsing the bones with very hot water. This will help reduce the foam that will rise when the pot starts boiling. (A trick I learned from my pa.) Fill pot with hot water and add bones on high heat. Beef ribs are great but the broth will have a higher fat content and produce more oil in the broth.
Add oyster sauce, salt, fish sauce, onion, mesh ball, and 4 pho spice cubes (pictured above) to pot. For vegetarians, look for the pho spice cubes that says CHAY. Chay means Vegetarian.
Bring pot to a high boil for 10-15 mins and lower to a simmer on medium high. Use a ladle or fine mesh strainer to remove any foam that rises. Continue to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
The broth will reduce. Taste the broth and adjust seasonings to your liking. At this point, I usually add more water to fill the pot back up along with 2 additional tablespoons of fish sauce and a few more dashes of oyster sauce. Continue to simmer for another 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
While the broth is simmering, prepare your meat and garnish. Slice your rare beef as thin as possible. The thinner the slice the quicker it will cook. I prefer rare tenderloin sliced a little thicker. Beef brisket is wonderful as well. Cook the brisket with the bones. It should be pretty tender after cooking for 3-4 hours. If you are lazy, ask for prepackaged sliced beef at the meat counter.
After 3 hours of simmering, the broth should be ready. Add beef balls (optional). The broth can be ready in a shorter amount of time. But the longer you allow the broth to cook, the more flavorful and richer it will be. I usually aim for a minimum of 3-4 hours. My mom has the broth simmering all day.
To prepare your pho bowl, rinse the rice noodles in cold water to remove the extra starch. (Use the fresh pho noodles found in the refrigerated section of the market.) To soften the noodles, quickly blanch the noodles in the broth with a strainer.
Arrange noodles in a bowl and add the rare beef to the bowl. Bring the broth back to a boil and pour the soup directly on the beef. This will help cook the beef. (If you like your beef well done, use a strainer to cook it).
Add the a small amount of the garnishes to your liking. Serve with a mixture of hoisin and sriracha to dip your meats into. It is also common to add hoisin and sriracha directly to your pho bowl. I usually add about a tablespoon of hoisin and sriracha.