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May 5, 2008

I made pho Saturday night because I really wanted pho, but didn’t want to wait for delivery or go get it myself. Here’s the (relatively easy to make) recipe. ((Pho, for those who don’t know, is Vietnamese soup made with a fragrant broth and rice noodles. It usually contains some variety of meat, usually thinly sliced beef.))

Start with:

6 cups beef broth
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 quarter-inch thick slice ginger root

Bring these to a boil in a large pot. Once it comes to a boil, reduce to a low simmer for 15 minutes.

While the broth is simmering, soak 3 to 6 oz. of flat rice noodles in hot water.

While the noodles soak, slice a half pound to a pound of trimmed sirloin into thin slices, against the grain. ((This is really important—if you don’t cut it across the grain, it will be impossibly tough when cooked.)) I actually couldn’t find any sirloin that looked decent, so I bought a London broil instead (it was a top round cut—London broil can be any variety of cuts). I didn’t do this because I was impatient, but one of the best ways to cut beef thin is to freeze it first. Next time I’ll do that—my slices were a little too thick to eat easily.

Once your beef is sliced, put a pot of salted water on to boil. Once it boils, drain the soaking noodles and throw them in the boiling water for about 45 seconds, then drain. Set aside.

Your broth should have been simmering for about 15 minutes now. If you feel like it, strain the broth into another pot; if you don’t, just fish the ginger, cinnamon, and star anise out. Put the broth, strained or not, over medium to low heat.

Time to add the last ingredients to the broth:

1/4 cup fish sauce
1 cup cleaned bean sprouts
Sliced beef

The beef will cook in the hot broth. Don’t let it overcook, though! It’s ready to serve as soon as the beef changes color.

To serve, divide the noodles among your bowls (this recipe makes 4 smallish portions or 3 restaurant-sized portions), then ladle the broth (with the meat) over the noodles. Serve with basil, cilantro, sliced Asian chiles, sliced scallions, and more sprouts.

This turned out OK. Next time, I’ll use a different kind of beef broth—or I’ll make my own—since it was way too salty. (I used regular Swanson broth, since the store didn’t have the low-sodium variety. I also added some salt at the end of cooking, thinking the addition of the beef would dilute the flavor some; I won’t do that, again, either.) Also, since my local, walking-distance grocery store didn’t have star anise, I used anise seed instead. If you use anise seed, you might want to strain the broth; I did not, though, and just avoided scooping into the bottom of the pot when I served the soup to avoid getting any seed into the bowls. It was fine. I have leftovers; we’ll see if the anise seed makes the broth inedible after reheating, though.

Categories: food
  1. Kel
    May 7, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I never would have thought cinnamon would be in Pho. I guess I just haven’t noticed it, or I may have thought it was ginger. Your recipe sounds so easy!

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