AKA completing my New Year’s Resolution on January 4th! Maybe I should have set a larger resolution, but this one sure was tasty.
This is a recipe I made once, years ago, when I was living with someone who only ate cheese and bread and fried potato. This meant I was the only one who tasted it and so I wasn’t sure if it was any good. Being that I used beef broth from a packet, it wasn’t as authentic as this version, that’s for sure. This time I made the broth myself, boiling bones and all that fun stuff. I worked using a combination of the recipe I had stored in my head from last time, and this recipe I found through my trusty friend Google.
There are two main stages to this recipe: making the broth and assembling the soup. I say assembling because once you have your broth there’s no cooking to speak of, just adding all the fresh items to the bowls (OK, you have to cook the noodles first, unless you’ve bought them fresh), and pouring the broth over. Then adding a few fresh items on top and yumming it up with a combination of chopsticks and a spoon.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the ingredients. If you’re making this please scroll all the way down to get the other ingredients sections so you don’t have to go to the shops twice!
2 large brown onions
10cm piece ginger
2.5kg beef soup bones (including marrow, that’s where most of the flavour comes from!)
5 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick, ~10cm
500g beef chuck steak
1.5 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
Palm sugar – I used 2x 2cm cubes
Making the Broth:
Put the bones in a large pot (I used my largest pot which is about 6 litres, but if you’ve got bigger use that! I had to add extra water at the end to get the concentration right).
Cover with water and bring to the boil. Allow to boil only a minute or two then dump all into the sink, scrub the pot clean and return the bones to it. This step removes impurities from the bones.
While water is heating in the above step, cut the onion and ginger in half (lengthways for ginger). Put under the grill on the highest setting and as close to the heat as possible without touching it. Let roast for 15 minutes then pull out, remove blackened parts under cool running water, skin the ginger carefully and set aside.
Add 6 litres of water to the bones (I could only add 4 so I put two litres in later once the bones were removed). Bring to the boil them reduce heat and simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Add other broth ingredients and simmer for 1.5 hours.
(assembled broth ingredients)
(scum on surface. Skim off with a spoon and discard, being careful not to scoop up any cloves or star anise when you do!)
After 1.5 hours, remove the chuck steak pieces, put in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes, drain and put in fridge. This will go into out soup at the end and the cooling with water stops the meat drying out and becoming discoloured.
Let remaining soup simmer for a further 1.5 hours (3 hours total cooking time).
Strain the pho broth through fine strainer. If desired, remove any bits of gelatinous tendon from bones to add to your pho bowl. Store tendon with cooked beef. Discard bones and other solids. At this point I added the two extra litres of water that didn’t fit in the pot at the start.
Use ladle to skim as much fat from top of the pho broth as you like – I removed some but by no means all – fat is where the flavour is! (Cool it and refrigerate it overnight to make this task easier; reheat befofe continuing.) Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, fish sauce and yellow rock sugar. The pho broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted.
You will end up with about 4-5 litres of soup stock.
(this was to make enough for two hungry people, not to use up all the broth. Adjust quantities as needed!)
About half a pack of rice stick noodles, fresh or dried.
100g raw beef filet. I used sirloin. Use anything good enough quality that it will taste good when served very rare.
Spring onions, white and green sections, cut very thinly. I used about two whole stalks.
Sliced fresh bok choy.
A handful of fresh coriander leaves.
Ground black pepper to taste.
Preparing the bowls:
The key is to be organized and have everything ready to go.
Cook noodles if using dried. Set aside and keep warm while preparing the other ingredients.
Slice the filet very thinly. Slice cooked beef and tendons (if using), also thinly.
Add a scoop of noodles to each bowl. Add slices spring onions and bok choy. Arrange a mixture of cooked and raw beef and tendons on top of the greens. Pour boiling hot broth over the top, carefully. It is important that the broth is boiling hot at this stage as it slightly cooks the raw beef. This looks cool as it’s happening, by the way. Sprinkle coriander leaves and black pepper over the top.
Optional ingredients, to be arranged on a plate and placed at the table:
(I used all of these!)
Sprigs of spearmint and/or Thai basil
Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)
Red hot chillies, thinly sliced
Serving and eating:
Add as much of the above optional items as desired. The chillies we bought were pretty fiery so we didn’t need too much! Squeeze the lime wedges over the top and enjoy. Dom was super-impressed with this one and I think it will be oft-requested 🙂
I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and have also had a successful start to the new year, or at least a happy start!