Vietnamese Beef Pho

My new apartment is just a few blocks north from a Vietnamese area full of pho restaurants and Asian grocery stores. Once in a while, I stop in the supermarkets and purchase random ingredients, but most of them have just been forgotten in the back of my cupboards. Recently, Bon Appetit published a Faux Pho recipe, and I decided that pho should be a good start to using some of the ingredients I’ve been storing. Of course, I wanted to make real Pho, and not Faux Pho, even though I knew it will probably take a lot longer to make 😉 Finding the beef bones for the broth was a bit challenging and it required trips to four different supermarkets, but it was all worth it in the end!

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 onion
  • 1 big piece of ginger (~4″)
  • 1.5 lbs beef bones
  • 1.5 lbs beef chuck
  • spices: 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds, 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds, 3 small whole star anise, a few whole cloves, 1 cardamon pod (I used 1/2 tsp ground)
  • mesh bag for the spices
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsps fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 package of Pho rice sticks (mine were 1/8″ thick)
  • toppings: bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, serrano peppers, sriracha

Halve the onion and ginger pieces and broil for ~ 10 min or until charred. Meanwhile, bring a large pot with water to boil. Vigorously boil the beef bones for 10 minutes to remove impurities, blood, etc. Rinse bones and then place in a separate pot with clean boiling water. Reduce heat to simmer and remove any scum that forms on the surface. Add the onion, ginger and beef chuck to the pot. Place all the spices in a mesh bag and add them to the broth. I didn’t have a cardamon pod, so I added some ground cardamon directly to the broth. Add salt, fish sauce and sugar, but don’t worry about the taste just yet, as you will be able to adjust it at the end.

Let it simmer for 1 1/2 hrs.

Remove the beef chuck pieces and reserve for later. Continue boiling broth for another hour and a half. Remove spice bag and bones, but keep any meat from the bones. Adjust the seasoning by adding more salt/fish sauce/sugar if needed.Prepare rice noodles according to the package instructions. Mine unfortunately had no instructions, so I just soaked them in hot water for a few minutes until soft. Add drained noodles to soup bowl, fill with the hot beef broth and add in the reserved beef chuck, sliced. Ideally, you would also be adding very thin slices of beef, but there was way too much beef chuck from the broth for just two people so I didn’t add any extra beef. 

Now add your favorite pho toppings. Besides the ones I used, you could also use limes, basil, mint, other type of hot peppers, etc. Serve with sriracha and/or other sauces on the side.

The broth was so flavorful and delicious! It was definitely the best pho broth I’ve ever had. Better than the one in restaurants, if I may say so 😉

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