Pho is a northern Vietnamese street food which became known to the rest of the world after with migrants after teh Vietnam War.
The biggest secret to a good pho is the bone broth. Well, technically broth in general. I once cooked vegetarian Pho with vegetable broth for a friend. But this time I will give you a recipe that is -I hope- closer to the original.
First of all you will need a lot of bones for the broth. Marrow bones are ideal for me. In fact, it’s best to roast the marrow bones in oven and eat the marrow with smoked salt, then use the actual bones for the broth! The bones need to simmer for a long while. In a pressure cooker I cook at least 5-6 hours and in a covered pot I cook for 12-18 hours to get as much collagen as I could. You could still achieve good taste with lesser hours but it’s best to benefit from the collagen, right?
Another important point is not to shy away from spice. With the bones, you need to use cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, star anise, black cardamom, cloves, salt and black pepper. I toast the spices in a pan until good smells take over my kitchen, then I put all in the water with bones.
For 4-5 pieces of bone, 2-2.5 it water should be good for two or three people. Use less if you will not simmer for as long. But while we are on it, it’s best to put lots more of bone and water to have some extra for the freezer! (Freeze in ice cube tray or paper glasses and use as necessary).
Traditionally pho is made with thinly sliced raw beef. If you hesitate about using raw meat don’t worry, as they are too thin they cook with the boiling broth right away! But if you are still uncomfortable, then take the bones off, strain the broth and simmer the meat in the broth for a minute or two. See, my broth was not boiling but regardless the meat was almost done immediately.
I also cook some sliced tofu in a pan with sesame oil (or anything else) and some sesame, as well as white parts of the chards. I serve these on the meat, with spring onions and green parts of the chard or any other greens that I have at hand. However if I go shopping for this recipe I always buy chards.
Traditionally rice noodle is preferred but as I am still on a diet I use konjac. In fact you can choose any noodle that you like
As I use lots of spices for the broth, I don’t prefer adding sauces but if you like you can consider sriracha or any other chili sauce, a caramelised sauce like hoisin, or even nuoc mam or fish sauce!
So – bon appétite!