Pho Bo, Vietnamese Soup
Pho-Kin Hell all time favourite food dish from anywhere in the World – believe me I have had gallons of this stuff, Pho Bo, Vietnamese Soup. Now I am going to give my own recipe, but also show you some other locations to get this damn fine soup. Regards the recipe, don’t panic – it is indeed a tough one to perform. So again why not just jump on planes, trains, and automobiles and go eat someone else’s.
Pho 24 by the central lake in Hanoi, bangs out a beauty ofAmazing Pho, made all better by the surrounding atmosphere.
Saigon Sandwich, Katong now on East Coast Road, opposite I12. Say Hi to Kelly.
A little bit of Daddy-Pedia time for you now – Pho originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam, apparently to the South East of Hanoi in a rather large textile market. The traditional home of pho is reputed to be the villages of Vân Cù and Dao Cù, and according to villagers there they used to eat Pho there long before the French colonial period when it was popularized. The French linkage will become evident in a second.
Pho was originally sold at dawn and dusk by roaming street vendors, who shouldered mobile kitchens on poles. At either end of the pole were wooden boxes, one contained a cauldron over a wood fire, and the other stored the noodles, spices, and cookware. Some others link Pho to the French dish of ‘Pot-au-Feu’ – literally translated as ‘pot on fire’. There is also reference to the grilling of the vegetables prior to placing in the stock being a French influence, back to the Feu and then Pho. But if you trust the villagers of Vân Cù the French can piss off with any claimage to this dish origin. I’m with the Vietnamese on this one. But to be honest who cares!
To the recipe, are you ready for this one? This takes time, patience, attention, love and care. When you are done you have it, the world’s best dish in my reckoning – Pho Bo, Vietnamese soup.
I suggest making the broth the day previous as it literally does take a day. Make it, let it cool and refrigerate for use on the day of your meal. And now roll your sleeves up, this is the most complex and time consuming recipe I have ever written within the blog to date.
This will make enough bowls for 6 people easily, and a little ‘small stuff treat’ as an added bonus;
- 2.25 kg of beef marrow or knucklebones;
- 900g chuck beef or flank cut in to pieces;
- 2 7.5cm of ginger, cut lengthways, lightly bruised with the flat of a knife and charred on the gas hob (blackened);
- 2 onions peeled and charred on the gas hob (blackened);
- 4 tablespoons of fish sauce;
- 3 tablespoons of rock sugar or normal sugar;
- 10 whole star anise, lightly toasted (not burnt) in a dry pan;
- 6 whole cloves, again lightly toasted in a dry pan; and
- 1 tablespoon sea salt.
Take 2 large stockpots and fill with about 9 pints of water each, and then bring to the boil. Place the bones and beef chuck in one and boil vigorously for 5 minutes or so. The water will get very “muddy”, as it is literally boiling away the impurities. Take some tongs and carefully transfer the bones and flank steak to the other pot. Again bring to the boil, and reduce to a simmer.
This next piece is so important. Please keep an eye on the broth and keep skimming the fat and any foam from the surface. Keep doing this continually throughout the process. You want a clear broth at the end of the cooking process to make the perfect Pho Bo, Vietnamese Soup.
Add the charred onion and ginger, fish sauce and sugar and simmer for 40 minutes or so until the beefsteak is tender. Then add the star anise and cloves and allow to infuse for 30 minutes until the broth is fragrant. Then take all the onion, ginger, star anise and cloves out of the broth (an easy way to do this is to have the herbs in a muslin sack in the first place). Add the salt and continue to simmer for at least 2-3 hours.
Please again keep an eye constantly on the broth as you must skim the impurities and fat from the surface to keep it clean and clear. You’ve finished after circa 5 hours, I told you this is a long process. Then have a rest, let this cool and refrigerate as explained above.
For the soup adornment;
- 8 limes quartered;
- A big handful of holy basil, Thai basil or normal basil leaves;
- 1-2 packets of flat rice noodles – I tend to pre blanch mine in some boiling water first for 2-3 minutes;
- 1 packet of washed bean sprouts;
- 3 finely sliced chili padi;
- 2 finely sliced red onions or shallots;
- 3 finely sliced (lengthways) Spring onions; and
- 1-2 packets of raw beef – I use shabu shabu as that is already sliced lovely and thin for you, but you could thinly slice rib-eye.
Once you are ready to eat, re-heat the broth, and heat some bowls in the oven.
Lay the rice noodles in the bottom of the bowl, and then add some of the very thinly sliced beef and pour over the broth. The broth will start to cook the meat for you, and therefore you will serve this medium rare.
Now you can serve a pre-made bowl by adding in all of the other ingredients – squeezing the limes, adding the basil etc (I did this as in the picture) or what can be fun is to just serve the noodles, beef and broth and then let your guests make up their very own version of Pho Bo, Vietnamese Soup.