Did someone say Pho?!

Although I am not Vietnamese, I feel I have eaten my share of Pho. If you do not yet know what Pho is I recommend you go out and get some RIGHT AWAY! Or maybe after reading this.

Quick history of Pho.
Pho is considered as the national dish of Vietnam. Some say Pho is the best comfort food. I say Pho is the best hangover food. It is the cure all for hang overs. Well that and another beer.
Don’t be mistaken Pho is a soup, but it is no side dish. Pho is a main dish. Noodles playing just as an important role as the rich broth served with it.
History of pho began in Hanoi in northern Vietnam and that it started when the French colonized the country in the late 1880s. It is said that the word Pho was taken from the french word “feu” in English that means “fire”. I would guess it relates to the classic french dish “pot au feu” but don’t hold me on that one. Anyway enough about that lets get into how a good Pho is made. Throw away any thought’s of using cubed chicken or beef broth. When making a real Pho there is no shortcuts!

Main ingredients are as followed:
Beef Stock:
Daikon (can be found in most stores)
Ox tails (very important)
Beef marrow (also very important)
Rock sugar (not allot)

Now the spices for the broth:
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp cardamom
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
5 star anise
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
(It is recommended to throw spices in pan together to get the oils out)

Accompanies on side:
1 spring onion, cut into small piece
1/2 Onion, cut into thin strips
sprigs of fresh cilantro/ coriander
fresh basil leaves
fresh mint leave
bean sprouts (clean them)
lime wedges
1 fresh red chili cut into thin slices
Filet Mignon

For the broth:
1) Get a decent size pot and and bring about 3 liters of water to a boil.
Add in the ox tail and bone marrow and bring back to a boil. Turn heat down to medium for about 10-15 minutes skimming off any scum that floats to the top. Now discard the liquid and fill with about 4 liters of water. Obviously leaving in the ox tail and bone marrow bring to a boil.

2) Add in the celery, carrots, daikon, onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and star anise. (For the spices you may want what is called a bouquet garni, which means put them in a cheese cloth so you can easily remove at the end)
Now you simmer at medium heat for 5-6 hours (yup I told you no short cuts, plan ahead!) Also from time to time skim fat off the top.
After 5-6 hrs your broth is ready. Well almost. Discard the ingredients and KEEP the liquid (this is pure gold)

3) Enhancing the broth for more flavor.
Add in fish sauce about 2-3 tablespoons. Salt/Pepper to taste and some sesame oil (be careful do not use allot of sesame oil as it can over take the flavor) a drizzle will do.
If you made it this far congratulations! The broth is done!!! Set aside for now.

4) Now for the noodles (MUST be rice noodles)
boil water and cook the rice noodles,making sure they don’t stick, remove them from the water as soon as they just become soft, transfer to a colander, quickly rinse in cold tap water, drain and set aside. The purpose of this is to cool the noodles immediately and not to let them further cook when warm and not to get soggy. It should not take more than 2-3 mins. (Remember the noodles cook more once put back into the broth so under cooking is fine)

Now you have your chilled rice noodles and your rich yummy broth. The hard part is done. Now comes the fun part.

5) Filet mignon thinly sliced (the thinner the better and make sure it’s fresh!) This is done raw when you add it to the hot broth it will cook. Trust me. Set aside.

6) Bring broth back to a boil, place the noodles into bowls. Line the raw beef slices on top of the noodle, add some onion and spring onion and then pour the hot broth over on the beef & noodles.
Serve immediately. Add some bean sprouts, Thai basil leaves, mint & coriander leaves, chili, lime & dipping sauce,from the accompanied side dish according to your personal taste.

Sauces to add in to Pho at the end
hoisin sauce
sriracha hot chili sauce

And that’s it! You have now masterd the art of Pho! Even I feel a little overwhelmed by the end of writing all this. But it is worth the journey.
Well at least once or twice at home. Now I choose to go out and eat at my local Vietnamese restaurant. It is usually very cheap about 8 to 15 dollars. And much much easier. Hope you enjoyed this blog for today. Tomorrow maybe something else entirely.
Any questions please feel free to ask!


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