This Vietnamese soup is becoming all the rage! Traditionally it is made with beef, but you can also use shrimp – since the hot broth cooks the meat, I would recommend pre-cooking any other meat you might choose. But the most important thing:
It’s All About the Broth! This warm, fragrant broth is what makes the dish.
What you need:
- 1 onion, cut into quarters
- 3-inch piece of ginger, skin removed
- 1 carrot, cut in half
- 2 3-inch pieces of cinnamon stick
- 2-3 whole star anise
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoons whole coriander seed
- 6 cups beef broth (see note)
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce (not low sodium – you can use tahini to make it gluten-free)
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce (a watery sauce found in Asian markets or the Asian section of the grocery store)
- 2 cups cooked rice noodles (also referred to as rice sticks)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons canola oil
- ¾ pound beef sirloin (traditional pho is beef, but you can also use shrimp)
- 2-3 green onions, chopped
- 2 limes, quartered
- 1-2 cups mung bean sprouts
- 1 cup fresh herbs chopped (use cilantro, mint, Thai basil – or a mix)
- Sriracha sauce
How to Do it:
Place the beef in the freezer until it is slightly frozen and firm. This will make it easier to slice very thin.
Place the broth, onion, carrot and ginger in a medium kettle or saucepan. Dry toast the spices (coriander, star anise, cinnamon and cloves) by placing them in a hot, cast iron pan. Continue heating the pan, shaking the spices to prevent burning, until they become fragrant. Place the soy sauce, fish sauce and spices into the broth and bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer the broth for 30 minutes to an hour. It will reduce, but add water if it reduces below about 4 cups. When it’s ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and spices.
While the sauce simmers, cook the noodles according to the package directions. They will be very sticky, so coat them gently in canola oil (flavorless oil) to prevent it.
Remove the beef from the freezer. Cut at a slight angle as thin as possible and then into 2-inch strips.
Prepare the condiments, but keep in mind that Thai chili is HOT.
Place the noodles, beef and condiments in the bowl first.
Top with the HOT broth. The heat of the broth will cook the meat.
NOTE: You can make your own beef broth by simmering marrow bones (you can get them from the butcher) in water with salt. Simmer for 3-4 hours adding salt as needed. The marrow gives the broth a very rich flavor. Freeze in single quart bags for future use.
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