Vietnamese Beef PHO, it’s just one of those complete meals! Usually prepared during the weekend, since it takes a minimum of 3 hours to cook it’s delectable broth, is great served for any meal; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s an all time Vietnamese favorite that now many Westerers are discovering and eating. There are many variations to making this time consuming dish, this is my way of preparing it. Although it’s harder to make as a first time dish, as you prepare it more and more, you’ll be able to make this in no time at all. Pictured below are is my favorite way of serving Pho, the condiments are mentioned throughout the recipe and is used as a guide, but are my preference. You can use whatever brand you prefer.
2 lbs. Beef bones with Marrow
2 lbs. Oxtail bones
3 pieces, Beef Shank bone and meat
Brisket, sirloin, thin rib eyes, chuck roast; meat for Pho
1 Tbsp. Salt
Water, enough to cover first boiling
2 large Onions
1 (4-inch) piece fresh Ginger root
1 Cardamom pod
1 tsp. Whole Cloves
3 Tbsp. Coriander seeds
3 Tbsp. Fennel seeds
10 pieces Star Anise
3 – 4 pieces Asian Cinnamon sticks
6 quarts Water (or approximately 24 cups)
3 Tbsp. Beef broth seasoning
3 Tbsp. Sugar OR 3 oz. Asian rock sugar
2 stalks fresh Lemongrass, optional
8 – 10 Kaffir leaves, optional
1/4 cup Thai Fish sauce, pictured above
2 pkgs. Pho rice noodles, frozen/fresh OR dried
2 pkgs. Vietnamese BEEF meatballs, your choice
Bunch Culantro (Saw leaf herb)
Jalapenos OR Thai peppers
Fresh Bean Sprouts
Thai Fish Sauce
Sriracha hot sauce
Shrimp paste, optional
First thing we’ll need to do is to clean the bones. In a large 12 quart stock pot, add all the meat and bones, the salt, and enough water to cover the bones. Bring this to a boil and allow this to cook for about 10 minutes.
Once the meat/bones have been boiling for about 10 minutes, the scum and impurities will be released. This is what we don’t want in our Pho. Pour the meat and bones into a large colander and rinse them clean. I usually wash each piece one by one to make sure I washed everything off. Wash and clean the pot too. Pour the meat/bones back into the CLEAN pot and set aside while we prepare the aromatics.
For those that live in my area, I purchased several of the ingredients at our local Mimi’s Asian market, Gate 6 Asian market, or at markets in Nashville. Pour all of the aromatics into a DRY fry pan and on medium high heat, slightly toast them. This will bring out the aroma and “wake up” those dried seeds. Do this just for a few minutes and when you start to smell their aroma. Remove and set aside to cool. After they have cooled, pour them into a pouch or spice ball, http://www.amazon.com/Regency-Spice-Bags-Drawstring-top/dp/B000YE2OMO/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1383496162&sr=1-3&keywords=bouquet+garni+bags OR http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003FCMCMO/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3FPX6BLVYEWX9 OR you can just make your own by add the aromatics to a cheesecloth and tying it off with kitchen twine.
Next prepare the onions and ginger. Peel the onion and cut it into half, do not remove the root.
Slightly peel the bad or dark areas off the ginger and slice them into pieces, as pictured.
Using the same fry pan from the aromatics, on high heat, CHAR the ginger and onion pieces on both sides. This can also be done under the broiler in the oven. Set aside.
This step is optional, but I like adding it; taking 2 stalks of Lemongrass, clean off the outer layers and cut them into 4-inch sections, pound them to break up the fibers and release its oils. Set aside.
I also like to add Kaffir lime leaves, this is also OPTIONAL! I usually add about 8-10 pieces.
Phewww, that was just the PREP work; OK, I think we’re ready! Now, LET’S GO MAKE SOME PHO! In the large stockpot with the meat and bones, onions, ginger, bag of aromatics, lemongrass, and kaffir leaves. Fill the pot with 6 quarts OR 24 cups of water.
Add the beef broth flavoring and the sugar. Typically, Asian rock sugar is used, but I didn’t have access to that. Stir all of these ingredients together
Place the filled covered pot onto the stove top and on HIGH heat, bring the broth up to ALMOST a boil and then reduce heat down to medium low or low and allow to cook for 3 – 4 hours, stirring in between cooking time. Throughout the cooking time, make sure to remove the scum and grease that accumulates on the top of the broth. Cover and continue cooking.
After 2 hours of cooking, add the 1/4 cup fish sauce. Also usually about 2 hours into the cooking time, I like to remove the beef shank meat portion, I don’t like having it too tender, I like it with a bit of bite and because I don’t want it to shred. I allow this to cool off and then slice it to be served with our Pho. I add the bones back into the broth cooking. This step is optional! Also, I prepare my brisket meat by boiling it with some salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and some Star Anise. Cook this until tender. Remove, cool, and slice to be served with Pho. I do not care to use RAW beef in my Pho. I prefer to cook ALL of my meats, but you are more than welcome to prepare this dish using thinly sliced raw rib eye or chuck, and sirloin. It’s your choice.
Prepare the meatballs, by thawing them and slicing them in half. Add this to the broth during the last 30 minutes of cooking time. This cooks the meatballs and also flavors it with the broth. There are several varieties of Vietnamese meatballs, I prefer the one pictured.
About 30 minutes out from the Pho being ready, prepare the Pho noodles. There are several types of noodles, I prefer the FRESH/FROZEN ones, as pictured. Remove them from the packaging and place them in a bowl of HOT water, allow to sit in it for about 30 minutes. Wash and change the water with more hot water, separating the noodles as you go.
Drain the noodles in a large colander.
Let’s prepare all the garnishings. Slice the onions into thin stips, and cut the green onions thinly, using only the green parts. Save the white and root areas for side condiments. Place them into a bowl and toss and combine them well. Set aside.
Wash all of the herbs and pat them dry, placing them onto a paper towel, Cilantro, Culantro, Bean sprouts, Thai basil, Jalapenos or Thai chilies. Slice the limes. Set aside.
Assemble your bowl of Pho, adding your beansprouts first, then noodles, meats, broth and then garnish. Toss and taste, add condiments as needed.