Pho Bo, a Vietnamese delicacy that originated in Northern Vietnam is a  popular dish all around the world. There are different versions of this soup but the most popular are, Pho Bo (with beef) and Pho Ga (with chicken). Every household in Vietnam and every restaurant have their own secrets to make the best Pho but it is not limited to a single best for this dish and that’s the beauty of it. 

However, some key ingredients and cooking techniques must be present for the soup to be able to be classified as Pho. The most important part is the broth. In my version, I cooked it for 4 hours and that’s how I like it. Some people prefer to cook it for only 2 hours, while some restaurants cook their Pho broth for 16 hours and more. One of the secrets to the fragrant and delicious Pho broth is chargrilling (or in my case broiling) the bones and vegetables before starting to make a broth. It will give the broth this beautiful brown colour, give it sweetness and smoky taste and aroma.

The proper Pho should also include rice noodles, soybean sprouts, green onions and different herbs (herbs may vary, but usually they include coriander leaves, mint leaves and That basil leaves). And of course, additional fish sauce (although some should already be added to the broth when cooking), lime slices and small circled chillies are always served on the side. That is a traditional way and in this case the best way. It also makes it more fun, cause in some way you can “build your own soup”.

The meat for this soup should be cut very-very thinly because it is cooked in a bowl by pouring hot broth over it. It is not always done this way, and sometimes I was served Pho Bo where all the beef was already cooked beforehand and just sliced (more like a Japanese ramen noodle). But to my opinion, one of the best things about that dish and something I like the most about it is the meat that is cooked right in front of you in the broth. This cooking method gives the meat slices divine flavour and texture and there are no words good enough to describe it.

Recipe Card

Ingredients

Quantity
Beef tenderloin

110 g

Beef bones

2 pieces (joints & marrow)
Ginger

1 piece (5 cm)

Onion

2 small or 1 big
Garlic

1 bulb

Oil (grapeseed)

3 tbsp
                                  Cinnamon

2 sticks

Star anise

3 pieces
Cloves

5 pieces

Coriander seeds

1 tsp
Green onion

3+1 stalks

Fish sauce

2 tbsp
Sugar (brown)

1 tsp

Salt

To taste
Rice noodles

90 g

Soybean sprouts

A handful

For Plating

 

Mint leaves

Cilantro leaves

Red chilli (cut into circles)

Lime (quartered)

Fish sauce

To taste

 

Method of Preparation

  • Soak the bones in very salty water 24-48 hours, change the water every 12 hours (for this dish you need to plan in advance)
  • On the day of cooking, when you finish soaking the bones, prepare all the ingredients
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Layer the baking tray with aluminium foil, place onions, garlic, ginger and bones
  • Baste vegetable and bones with grapeseed oil
  • Roast 20 minutes on middle rack (200°C) and then broil 10 minutes on the top rack (250°C)
  • Place roasted vegetables and bones in a large saucepan, add room temperature water to cover the bones
  • Toast star anise, cloves, coriander seeds and cinnamon sticks until aromatic
  • Add toasted spices
  • Add 3 green onion stalks
  • Bring to a very light simmer (small bubbles should be barely visible)
  • Remove impurities if necessary (however, if you soaked and roasted the bones, the broth will be very clear)
  • Close the lid and simmer for 4 hours (check from time to time to make sure it is not boiling)
  • 20 minutes before the broth is done, place beef tenderloin into a freezer for 20 minutes to firm up (this will help to cut very thin pieces)
  • Soak rice noodles in water (maximum 10 minutes)
  • Blanch rice noodles and soybean sprouts in boiling water (10 seconds each), then transfer the noodles to a serving bowl and place bean sprouts on top of it
  • Turn the heat off, remove everything from the broth
  • Strain the broth through the mesh sieve
  • Bring to simmer and season the broth: add brown sugar, fish sauce and sea salt (to taste, add bit by bit)
  • Pat dry tenderloin with kitchen towels
  • Slice the beef tenderloin very thinly
  • Layer the beef slices on top of the noodles and bean sprouts
  • Chop the green onion and add to the serving bowl
  • Bring the broth to a boil and quickly remove from heat
  • Pour boiling-hot broth on top of the beef, make sure you cover it with broth and the beef cooks through (thin slices of beef will cook almost instantly)
  • Garnish with and add lime juice, chopped chilli circles, mint leaves, cilantro leaves and fish sauce to taste

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About the Contributor

Evgeny and Alisa Belousov

We both share a passion for cooking and especially enjoy cooking together. For us, it is more than just about food. It’s about sharing creative ideas, communicating and expressing ourselves through our culinary creations.

We believe that anyone can cook and this idea helped us start our culinary project – Delicious Artisanal Food. We hope to inspire other people, even those who never cooked before, to take the first step and begin this wonderful journey of cooking home-made delicious quality meals. The best food is the food made with love and by people we love.

At first, we learned from the internet and culinary books, we also took cooking classes whenever we travelled, discovering different food cultures and ingredients. But we thought that it was not enough and recently we joined ICCA Dubai to gain professional cooking skills and challenge ourselves.

To know more about delicious artisanal food project please visit: deliciousaf.net