Okay i have a confession... before making this dish i had not actually ever eaten Pho before. It's pretty rare that i go to a Vietnamese restaurant. So i have no idea whether i actually made a decent pho or not. However, what i CAN say is that i understand why everyone loves this dish. The rich broth of spices and beef, the tender shavings of beef, the zing of the lemon, the burst of the handfuls of fresh herbs. It is quintessentially... Vietnamese. Makes me want to go there so badly! The one bad thing about pho is the work that goes into the stock. It seems like this should be a fast and easy meal, however if you don't have the broth on hand it's loooooong.
The Broth (makes 2 litres or 4 serves)
- 500gm chicken bones or wings
- 1kg soup bones
- 500gm osso bucco or beef brisket (basically a cheap beef)
- 6 star anise
- 2 cassia sticks
- 5 chinese cardammon
- 1 large onion, in thick slices
- 3 inches of ginger, in coins
- 12 cups of water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
The Rest (per serve)
- 85gm good steak (tender but lean)
- 1/2 cup coriander, including chopped stalks (thats where the flavour is)
- 1/2 cup thai basil, torn
- 1 long chilli, sliced
- 2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
- A handful of bean sprouts
- 60gm pho rice noodles
- Lemon wedges
- Nuoc Nam fish sauce
Somehow or another char both the onion and the ginger until they look burnt. IF you have a grill or burner, easy! If like me, you don't, just fry with no oil. Set aside.
Place all of the broth meats in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Discard this first run of water.
Add the ginger, onions and spices, and the 3 litres of water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a low simmer.
Cook for as long as you have (2 hours minumum; the longer the better), skimming the surface muck off occasionally, and reducing it to 2L.
Strain the stock and refridgerate.
When ready to use, remove the stock from the fridge and skim off the layer of fat that will have settled on top.
Slice the beef as thinly as possible. Easiest way is to freeze the beef first, then this will be easy. Set aside.
Cook the rice noodles as per instructions and run through cold water to stop them cooking. Set aside.
Bring the required broth to a boil (approx 1.5 - 2 cups per person) and leave boiling heavily.
Place the noodles and coriander into the serving bowls, and lay the beef slices on top.
Ladel over the boiling soup; this will cook the beef.
Add the chilli, basil and spring onions.
Serve with lemon and nuoc nam so that people can adjust the soup to their own tastes.