Easy Vietnamese Pho
I get some serious Asian cravings now and then. So when that happens, I turn to my trusty kitchen.
Why go through the hassle when you’re in gourmet town, you ask? Unfortunately, as diverse as Dubai’s food scene is, good Asian cuisine is still fairly hard to come by. And I’m not talking about the likes of Zuma and Hakkasan, where amazing food comes at an amazing price. I’m talking about a casual dining go-to, with good food at a decent price (I’m sorry to break it to you, but PF Chang is not real Asian food!).
When you crave Pho, you make Pho!
Anyway, if you haven’t tried Vietnamese Pho (pronounced ‘Fuh’)…I’m not sure if we can be friends. Just kidding!
A little bit about Pho: Pho originated from North Vietnam in the early 20th century; there are two kinds of Pho – Pho Bo (beef) and Pho Ga (chicken). The former is the more popular version, and that’s what we’re creating today.
Pho Bo is a beef noodle soup, and in Vietnam, it’s served primarily at breakfast time (Breakfast?! Yes, breakfast). Picture street vendors dishing out piping hot bowls of Pho to motorists at the break of dawn, before the city stirs to a wake. Mmm…now I can’t wait to visit Vietnam for the real deal!
The original method of preparing the broth for Pho Bo is with beef bones and usually takes a good few hours, but this easy Pho is ready in just under an hour. It doesn’t have quite the same depth of original Pho, but definitely hits the right notes. I know it satisfied my craving…Pho-sho!
- 450g beef slices
- 250g beef balls (optional)
- 450g fresh small flat rice noodles (Banh Pho) (Sometimes I use rice vermicelli instead)
- 6 cups beef stock (I use Ina Parman’s beef stock powder)
- 2 yellow onions, one halved; one sliced thinly
- A thumb of fresh ginger (4-5cm), sliced half cm thick
- 1 carrot, sliced thinly
- 1 spring onion, sliced thinly
- 150g beansprouts
- 4 tsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- A dash of white pepper
- Salt (to taste)
- 5 star anise
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- A handful of beansprouts
- A handful of mint leaves
- A handful of basil
- 1 spring onion, sliced thinly
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 1 red chilli, sliced
- Hoisin sauce
- Marinate beef slices in soy sauce and a dash of white pepper. Leave to marinate for 30 mins.
- Place the halved onion and sliced ginger on a tray and under the broiler. When the onions and ginger are charred, approximately 15 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Prepare the spice bag: Place the cinnamon stick, star anise, whole cloves and fennel seeds in a cheesecloth and secure with kitchen string. (I use a disposable tea bag.)
- Bring beef stock to a boil. Add the onions, ginger, carrots, spice bag. Allow the broth to simmer for 20 mins.
- Add the beef slices, thinly sliced onions and beansprouts. Then, add the sugar, salt and fish sauce. Allow to simmer for another 5 – 8 minutes.
- Remove the spice bag from the broth.
- Prepare a side bowl of garnish: A handful of raw beansprouts, mint leaves, basil, spring onions, lime wedges, cut red chilli, and hoisin sauce.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. For each bowl, place a portion of the noodles in a vertical strainer and lower into the boiling water. As soon as the noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10 to 20 seconds), pull the strainer from the water letting the water drain back into the pot. Empty the noodles into a bowl.
- Ladle approximately 2 cups of boiling broth, together with beef slices, sliced onion and beansprouts into each bowl.
- Garnish with spring onions.
- Serve immediately with the side bowl of garnish.
• Only assemble the noodles if it is be eaten straight away. If packing to go, pack cooked noodles with garnish, and broth separately.