I’ve made Pho a number of times over the last few years but this particular recipe has to be closest to what I sometimes buy in town for around $12 a pop. After heartily enjoying it for dinner last night, I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down every ingredient and step from memory so I could make it again. Pho is usually made from broth that has taken many hours to make, but honestly, even without a beef bone in sight this 1/2 hour version tastes like the real deal. This Pho also replaced what I was originally going to post this week …so while we still have soup weather Down Under, I hope you’ll try it. I was going to buy fresh Thai basil for the recipe, but quite honestly (as is always the case if I go to the supermarket in the evening), I couldn’t get any. So fresh basil paste is used as a substitute and it works as does the mild chilli paste which has a medium heat. Please, please never used dried herbs in Pho, it’d be better to leave the herbs out all together. But something you can’t leave out is the cinnamon stick and star anise.. it would be like leaving egg whites out of a pavlova. In closing, I know snow peas and mushrooms aren’t normally part of Pho, but I was looking to beef-up the nutrient content and I have no regrets, I’d add them again. I think shimeji mushrooms in particular would be a special addition but I usually pick them up when they’ve been reduced in price. Next time! Oh and another thing, I forgot to buy spring onions, so they aren’t in my recipe, but if you want to chop some up and add them at the end, go ahead.
Quick Vietnamese Beef Pho
Makes 2 big noodle bowl portions or 3 to 4 smaller bowls
*Onion x 1 brown, cut in half and sliced thinly
*Ginger, four pieces the size of the tip of your thumb, each cut in half (peeled)
*Cinnamon stick x 1
*Star anise x 1
*2 litres of beef stock (I used 2 tablespoon’s of Massels beef stock powder in boiling water)
*Gourmet Garden mild chilli paste in a tube (from herb section of supermarket, using half a teaspoon per bowl of Pho)
*Gourmet Garden basil paste in a tube (from herb section of supermarket, using half a teaspoon per bowl of Pho)
*Fish Sauce x 1 teaspoon
*Soy Sauce x 1 tablespoon
*Caster sugar x 2 tablespoon’s
*Salt x 1 pinch
*Mushrooms x 1 cup sliced thinly (any kind, shimeji would be perfect, I used ordinary fresh button)
*Snow peas x 8 (strings removed, cut in half on the diagonal)
*Thai rice noodles x 100g
*Beef steak x 150gm sliced paper thin
*Bean shoots x 125gm fresh (from fruit section of supermarket)
*Lime, fresh x 1/2 (or lemon is ok)
*Coriander, fresh x half a bunch
*Spring onions, chopped (optional garnish at the end, I didn’t use them)
-Prepare noodles, by soaking them in water from a just-boiled kettle, for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.
-While noodles are soaking, in a large saucepan saute sliced onion, ginger pieces, star anise and cinnamon stick with a pinch of salt until onion softened.
-Add beef stock and bring to a gentle boil.
-Add fish sauce, soy sauce and caster sugar, stir well and taste. The broth should be aromatic with just the right balance of sweet and savoury. Add a little more soy sauce or sugar if needed.
-Add sliced mushrooms & snowpeas, stir and let slowly simmer while you prepare each noodle bowl to receive the broth. It’s important to keep the broth piping hot as this will warm the noodles and cook the beef. It’s also good to start with warm bowls.
-In 3 or 4 noodle bowls, half (or almost half) fill each bowl with softened and rinsed rice noodles, smear over half a teaspoon of mild chilli paste and basil paste, add a small handful of bean sprouts on top, two very thin slices of lime, then scatter some strips of beef over the top (evenly portioning out everything between the bowls).
-Ladle hot, aromatic broth over the top of each bowl, it should reach near the top of the bowl, then the final ingredient: top each bowl with a generous amount of fresh coriander leaves (not chopped).
-Serve immediately with extra wedges of lime or lemon.