This has to be my favorite soup in the world and also the most often requested recipe amongst my friends! Be aware though that this is an easier & quicker “modern” version of an old classic. As you may know, cooking Pho Bo the traditional way can be a very long cooking process and might take quite a few trials and errors to get the taste right. So I have decided to skip making the broth from scratch and use instead good quality pho stock cubes and beef flavour paste that you can find in Asian grocery stores. The trick is to focus instead on adding a lot of fresh herbs, spices and meat to make it really special! It’s reasonably quick and actually tastes better than any other homemade pho I have tried…I even managed to convert my mum (who was born in Saigon) not to bother with the old family recipe!
Ingredients: (4 people)
3 tbsp instant beef flavour paste (gia vi nau pho)
2 cubes of pho soup seasoning (Vien gia vi pho)
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
4 lemons, 3 juiced and 1 cut into 4 wedges
4 tbsp fish sauce
400g lean beef brisket or fillet, very thinly sliced
1 large pack of flat rice noodles
1 large onion, sliced
300g bean sprouts
1 small bunch of Asian/Thai basil, washed and sliced
1 small bunch of coriander, washed and roughly chopped
4-5 spring onions, washed and finely sliced
2 red chili, seeds removed and finely sliced
1. Bring a large pan of water to boil (8 cups), then turn down the heat and stir in your beef paste and 1 of your two seasoning cubes. After a couple of minutes, add the sliced onion, star anise, cinnamon sticks and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Add the lemon juiced and fish sauce and cook for another 10 minutes on the lowest heat.
3. In the meantime, bring a separate large pan of water to boil, add your remaining seasoning cube in the water and cook your rice noodles following the instructions on the packet (usually 6 to 7 minutes). Steam the bean sprouts for same amount of time.
4. Equally divide the noodles, bean sprouts and spring onions between the bowls.
5. When you’re ready to serve, bring your broth back to a boil and cook the raw beef slices for a couple of seconds to medium rare before serving.
6. Add the beef pieces to each bowl, cover with hot broth and garnish with 1 lemon wedge and a small amount of herbs and chili.
Place the remaining herbs & chili on the table for each guest to top up to taste!
If you want to stick to a more traditional flavour, you may want to swap the coriander for mint. I personally tend to prefer it with coriander. You may also want to buy your beef at the butcher as they may be able to slice it paper-thin for you.