After numerous pleading occasions by my family, I finally succumbed to trying Vietnamese Cuisine. To my pleasant surprise I thoroughly enjoyed Vietnamese food. My favorite of all the dishes I tried was Pho.
The beloved Noodle Soup – Pho Bo is a complete meal in itself with choice of proteins, starch in form of vermicelli noodles, herbs, and salads to top of the soup as per the diner’s choice. The broth is clear, exuding aromas of beef, anise, and ginger; the cut of meats perfectly braised and tender; adding the basil, cilantro, and bean sprouts takes the dish to an addictive place of delectableness. This dish to be honest reminds me of classic French cuisine with subtle flavor and fresh ingredients.The heat comes in the form of condiments offered – Siracha, Chili Paste, and Jalapeno/Thai slices. You have a free hand at creating a personalized masterpiece suited to your palate. Me? I am satisfied simply relishing the wonderful broth and fragrance emitting from adding the herbs to the hot broth.
Hence, began my quest to make the ultimate Pho. After researching the web I found myself back at one of my trusted sites for recipes regardless of the cuisine – Leite’s Culinaria. This recipe is adapted from their sleuth of fantabulous recipes. Making broth from marrow bones adds the extra touch of buttery indulgence to the entire dish.
Pho Bo – Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup with Beef
For the Broth:
- 5 pounds beef marrow or knuckle bones
- 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2 pieces
- 2 3-inch pieces ginger root, halved lengthwise ,charred
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and charred
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 10 whole star anise, lightly toasted in a dry pan
- 6 whole cloves, lightly toasted in a dry pan
- 1 tablespoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1 pound dried 1/16- inch wide rice noodles (banh pho), soaked, cooked, and drained
- 1/3 pound beef sirloin, slightly frozen, then sliced paper-thin across the grain
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced paper-thin
- 3 scallions, cut into thin rings
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 pound bean sprouts
- 10 sprigs Asian basil
- Asian Cilantro (Asian grocery store)
- 6 Thai bird chilies
- 1 lime, cut into 6 thin wedges
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large stockpot, bring 6 quarts (24 cups) water to a boil. In a smaller pot, bring the beef bones, beef chuck, and enough water to cover to a boil. Let boil vigorously for 5 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the bones and beef to the large pot of boiling water. Discard the water in which the meat cooked. (This reduces the impurities that can cloud the broth.)
- When the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim any foam from the surface of the broth. Add the charred ginger and onions, fish sauce, and sugar. Gently simmer, skimming any foam, until the beef chuck is tender, about 45 minutes. Only gentle bubbles should rise to the surface of the broth. Do not allow the broth to return to a full boil. (This also reduces the chance of a cloudy broth.)
- Remove one piece of chuck, leaving the other piece in the gently simmering broth. Submerge the chuck in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes to prevent the meat from drying out. Drain the chuck, then thinly slice and refrigerate it.
- After the broth has simmered for 45 more minutes, wrap the star anise and cloves in a spice bag or piece of cheesecloth and add to the broth. Let infuse until the broth is fragrant, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard both the spice bag and onions. Add the salt and leave the remaining chuck and bones to simmer, skimming as necessary, until you’re ready to assemble the pho.
- Place the cooked noodles in preheated bowls. Place a few slices of the reserved thinly sliced beef chuck and the raw sirloin on the noodles. Bring the broth to a rolling boil and ladle about 2 to 3 cups into each bowl. The broth will cook the raw beef instantly. Garnish with yellow onions, scallions, and cilantro.
- Serve immediately, inviting guest to garnish the bowls with bean sprouts, herbs, chilies, lime juice, and black pepper.
My family likes to add Hoisin Sauce & Siracha to the mix.
TIP: Don’t discard the marrow bones. Smear a bit of marrow on toasted bread and be transported to buttery decadence.