I’m on an insane pho kick right now. So much so, that whenever the opportunity arises to go out for food, I enthusiastically shout my vote without any hesitation. It’s Friday night take-out date night, what do you want? “PHO!” It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, should we grab a bite? “YES, PHO!” I don’t feel like cooking toni— “YES! PHO!”
I’m a bit addicted. I have a few favourite pho places in my neighbourhood; just the other week a Vietnamese restaurant opened up a block from my house, and, well, let’s just say it’s the greatest/worst thing ever.
Perfect pho. A 5-minute walk away. Does it get any better than that?
Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, and meat, and is served with lots of tasty toppings. Traditionally, the meat is placed in the bowl raw, and the piping hot broth cooks it as it sits. If you haven’t had this soup, you’re definitely missing out.
It’s no secret that the key to a pho-king fabulous pho is in the broth, which is made by simmering stock with beef bones, oxtails, onions, garlic, and various spices. The proper teqnique requires the broth to simmer away for hours (some pros say 10-24 hours!), resulting in a broth that is deeply flavourful.
While this is undoubtedly delicious, it can be hard to replicate at home.
I have tried it. I bought the oxtails, bought the bones, and let the broth simmer away for about 7 hours. It was tasty, obviously, but it was also kind of pricey. It’s not like I had oxtails and various bones sitting in my pantry, so I had to go and buy all the proper ingredients.
If you have the time (and the means) to make authentic pho broth, definitely do it. But, being me, I wanted an at-home version that was cheap and easy to whip up on a weeknight after a long day at the office.
I’m not claiming this recipe is authentic. I’m also not claiming that this broth is as good as / better than traditional broth. It’s not simmered with oxtails and bones, and it only simmers for 30 minutes, not hours. I didn’t use raw meat because a) I don’t always have a fresh steak in the fridge and b) meat can be pricey, and using lunch meat is a great way to cut down the cost.
My only claim is that this homemade pho, while not traditional, is really damn good.
It’s quick, easy, and cheap, and you won’t have to buy a ton of crazy ingredients.
Hot, spicy broth, thinly shaved meat, chewy rice noodles, and oodles of fresh toppings. Hot sauce, bean sprouts, lime wedges, hot peppers, Thai basil, cilantro. Comfort food in a bowl.
I used thinly shaved roast beef lunch meat, but feel free to use whatever meat you have on hand, including any leftovers (small meatballs, pulled pork, or shredded rotisserie chicken would be lovely here). If you do want to go the raw meat route, go for it! Lunch meat, however, is a great alternative. It’s cheap, and it works here.
Pho lovers, rejoice!
|30-Minute (Faux) Pho|| || |
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 star anise pod
- 2 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 2 large onions, peeled and quartered
- 4-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped into thick pieces
- 6 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1-2 cups water (optional)
- 200 g roast beef, sliced thin (or any leftover meat that you have)
- 250 g rice noodles (I like to use vermicelli)
- 1 jalapeño, sliced (and seeds removed, if preferred)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Bean sprouts
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh Thai basil (or regular basil, in a pinch)
- Your favourite hot sauce
- Place the cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and coriander seeds in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and roast over medium heat for about a minute, stirring often, until fragrant.
- Add onions, ginger, broth, and fish sauce to the pot. Bring broth to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the chunky bits, then return broth to the pot. Add water, to taste, and keep broth hot until ready to serve.
- While broth is simmering, cook the rice noodles according to package instructions. This will typically take 1-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of your noodles. Strain and run under cold water.
- Divide noodles into serving bowls, and top with a few slices of roast beef. Add broth to the bowl, and then serve with all the fixin's!
- If you have leftovers, store the broth, noodles, and toppings in separate containers to prevent the noodles from soaking up all the broth and getting soggy.