Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

Pho is probably the most well - known dish of all the Vietnamese dishes.  All over the Dallas area, there are restaurants with the name Pho in it.  In Springfield, Missouri, there is a restaurant where they wear shirts that say "What the pho?!"  And Anthony Bourdain went all over Vietnam looking for the best pho.  I grew up eating this - probably weekly if not biweekly.  Mom made the best.  She still does!
My sister and I were talking about how it takes forever when you make pho from scratch.  There's grilling the onion and ginger, simmering the beef bones, skimming the broth.  Forget it!  Here's a shortcut to making pretty good pho.  Pho cubes can be found at Sam's Oriental on South University across from UALR.
I like the extra wide rice noodles.  You can also choose medium dried noodles or the fresh ones from the refrigerator section.  Prepare them as directed on the package.  If you can't find English instructions, just boil some water, add the noodles, and boil rapidly over high for about 4 minutes or until tender.  Drain, rinse, and set aside.
Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Use the amount directed on the pho cube package.  You may have to Google the equivalent of cups to liters if you're bad at math like me.  The pho cubes are great because they are flavored with ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and onion.  Those are the main flavors of pho.  When the water is ready, add the cubes.  Once the cubes are dissolved, add the thinly sliced beef.  We usually use eye of round fot its tender quality.

I like medium rare beef, so I remove the meat pretty quickly.  Top your noodles with the beef, add some broth, then your herbs, and season with a little bit of Sriracha and some Hoisin.  We also add fish sauce because we add that to everything.  I saw an issue of Cooks Illustrated where they put fish sauce in their gumbo to add depth of flavor.
 I like Thai basil, cilantro, and onions in mine.  In place of grilling the white onion, I cooked some green onions in a grill pan.
Well, I saved a little time anyway.


  1. I love Pho so very much. The first time I tried it was in Honolulu over 11 years ago, and I immediately resented the fact that I'd been forced to endure so much of life without it. Incidentally, 1L equals roughly 1.05Q. It's not a precise 1:1 ratio, but it's pretty close. So if you need to convert to Imperial from metric you can just go a bit over on your measures and still come out all right as long as you're not into really large numbers. Also, if you have a smart phone there are numerous conversion apps available for free.

  2. This looks so lovely. Can't wait to try it! Also, I have a love of fish sauce that belies my Caucasian roots. To me it is the ultimate umami short of a hunk of beef. I use it in recipes where I'd be tempted to reach for balsamic, but I don't want the sweetness. Chili, pasta sauce, peanut sauce...yes, yes, yes! Of course Sriracha goes in all of those as well!

  3. Oh really.....I am glad to know this John and Stephanie! Thank you for sharing! :) sauce in pasta sauce, I can see it. Perfect for this Asian fusion red kitchen!