I ask you, what on this earth is more delicious than a hot, fragrant bowl of Pho?
This week, our lady of the herbs, Christine shares her recipe for an awe inspiring Pho.
You Will Need
FOR Pho Broth
5 to 6 pounds of beef knuckles or leg bones
6 quarts cold water
2 medium onions, quartered
4-inch piece of fresh ginger, halved lengthwise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
6 star anise
6 whole cloves
1 black cardamom pod (see note below)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup fish sauce, (We prefer Three Crabs Brand)
1-inch piece yellow rock sugar (see note below)
FOR Assembly of Pho Soup Bowls
1 to 2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh “banh pho” noodles (see note)
1/2 pound raw eye of round, sirloin or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (see note)
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions (see note)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
OPTIONAL Garnishes Served Alongside Pho
Sprigs of fresh mint and/or Asian/Thai basil
Thinly sliced red chilies (such as Thai bird)
FOR Pho Broth
Parboil Bones: Add beef bones to a large pot that will hold at least 10 quarts. Then, cover bones with cold water. Place pot onto high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes. During this time, impurities and foam (or scum) will be released and rise to the top.
Drain bones, discarding the water. Then, rinse bones with warm water and scrub stockpot to remove any residue that has stuck to the sides. Add the bones back to the stockpot and cover with 6 quarts of cold water.
Char Onion and Ginger: Move an oven rack to a high position then turn broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place quartered onions and halved ginger onto baking sheet then broil for 10 to 15 minutes, turning onions and ginger occasionally so that they become charred or browned on all sides.
Toast Spices: Add cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves and the black cardamom pod to a dry frying pan. Place onto low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant. About 5 minutes.
Place toasted spices into a cotton muslin bag/herb sachet or cheesecloth then tie with butchers twine to seal.
Simmer Broth: Bring stockpot with parboiled bones and water to a boil then lower to a gentle simmer. Add charred onion and ginger as well as the bag or sachet of toasted spices.
Next, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, a 1/4 cup of fish sauce and the rock sugar.
Continue to simmer broth for 3 hours. If at any time foam or scum rises to the surface, use a spoon to remove it.
Strain Broth: Use tongs or a wide mesh spoon to remove bones, onion and ginger from broth then strain broth through a fine mesh strainer.
Skim Fat: The broth will have a layer of fat at the the top. There are two ways to remove this. First, if you plan to enjoy the broth now, skim the fat from the top of the broth using a spoon. If you do not mind waiting, you can also pour broth into containers then refrigerate overnight. As the broth cools, the fat will solidify, making it very easy to remove.
ASSEMBLING Pho Soup Bowls
Heat Broth: Bring the broth to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
Soak or Rinse Noodles: If you are using dried noodles, add noodles to a bowl then cover with hot water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes until soft and opaque. If you are using fresh, add to a colander then rinse with cold water.
Cook Noodles: Bring a medium saucepan filled with water to a boil. Place noodles into boiling water and cook for about 10 seconds or until they collapse. Drain noodles then divide between bowls. (We like to fill each bowl by 1/3 with noodles).
Fill Bowls: Now, arrange slices of raw meat into bowl. Then top with hot broth. Finish broth with onion slices and cilantro.
Serve bowls with a plate of optional garnishes- well, big so optional…