Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef & Rice Noodle Soup)
Whenever my kids are sick I make pho. Something about its exotic fragrance, warmth, noodles & flavorful broth. It’s just perfect! Growing up I remember going to Pho88 in Scarborough or Peachtree plaza in Markham. Pho Bo is part of my comfort food repetoire.
Pho Bo is considered a classic dish in Vietnamese cuisine. If you’ve had it before (plenty of restaurants in Toronto/GTA) why not try making it yourself? It is a process but its not as difficult as it seems. It takes time but most of it is prep cooking.
FYI: Pho Bo broth can be frozen for future individual or group servings.
- 5 pounds beef marrow or knuckle bones
- 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2 pieces
- 2 (3-inch) pieces ginger, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and halved
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 3 ounces rock sugar, or 3 tablespoons sugar
- Pho Spices in mesh bag (1 cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 1 cardamom pod, 6 whole cloves)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 pound dried 1/16-inch-wide rice sticks, soaked, cooked and drained
- 1/3 pound beef sirloin, slightly frozen, then sliced paper-thin across the grain
Garnish for Bowls
- 1/2 yellow onion thinly sliced
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- handful of bean sprouts
- 10 sprigs Asian basil
- 6 Thai sliced into thin rings
- 1 lime, cut into 5-6 wedges
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Hoisin sauce
- Sriracha hot sauce
Char: Brush cooking oil on ginger and onions and place on baking sheet. Turn on your broiler on high, and place the baking sheet on the top rack. Broil until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn and continue to char. Approximately 10-15 minutes.
Bones & Broth: Bring a large pot (12-qt capacity) of cool water to a boil. Add the bones and continue to boil for 10-15 minutes. Drain and rinse the bones. Rinse the same pot. Refill pot with bones and bring 6 quarts of cool water to a boil over high heat, then lower to simmer. Skim any scum that rises to the top.Add ginger, onion, Vietnamese spices, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove beef meat and set aside (add meat in the bowls later). Continue to simmer for another 1 1/2 hours. Strain broth and return broth to the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a small nugget of rock sugar (or 1 teaspoon of regular sugar), only if needed. Continue until broth tastes perfect.
Meat: Slice meat thin. It’s easier if you freeze the meat for 15-20 minutes prior to slicing. Now for the cooked meat… Cut or shred and set aside. Arrange all other ingredients (including veggies) on a platter for family-style service at the table. Everyone will “prep” their own bowls.
Noodles: To prepare noodles follow the directions on the package.
Assembly: Bring broth back to a boil. Arrange bowls next to the stove. Fill each bowl with rice noodles, shredded cooked beef and raw meat slices. As soon as the broth comes back to a boil, ladle into each bowl. FYI: The hot broth will cook your raw beef slices perfectly. Serve immediately. Guests can garnish their own bowls to suit their taste.
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