Quick and tasty Pho

by Patricia on March 16, 2009 · 10 comments

Who else is tired of the MGD64 commercials? They’re kind of silly. Actually, I’m finding commercials a bit annoying in general lately. Maybe I should pick different content to watch (What? So I like the B movies… Mickey Blue Eyes, Beauty Shop, … is it really so wrong? I’ve been taking a break from cooking shows today. But the MGD64 and Old Navy commercials are getting to me). Oh, anyway. I can’t fight it. I like fluff and bad commercials come with fluff (unless it’s marshmallow fluff. Mm. marshmallows…)

I have made this Pho a few times before and it is extremely quick and produces an intoxicating broth. The anise and cloves with ginger and garlic… they blend beautifully. How to Eat Supper is one of my favorite cookbooks. The authors are the hosts of The Splendid Table on NPR. I haven’t ever actually listened to their show (maybe I should). But their book is wonderful. They have found ways to maximize flavor in short amounts of time, so this Pho even works for a weeknight (if you have the ingredients on hand). The broth is also really good with rice (instead of the rice noodles).

One of the secrets is to roast the spices and other aromatics under the broiler to release the flavors and aromas (star anise is so pretty).

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup with Beef and Fresh Herbs (Pho)

(adapted from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio’s Award-Winning Food Show)

1 medium onion, thin sliced

4 large garlic cloves, thin sliced

One 2- to 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thin sliced

6 whole cloves

1 whole star anise, bruised; or 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds

fresh-ground black pepper

Four 14-oz cans chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)

6 to 8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 to 8 ounces top round steak

1. With the oven rack about 4-6 inches, preheat the broiler. Line a sheet pan with foil.

2. Scatter the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, anise and 5 grinds of pepper on the foil. Broil for 5 minutes, turning the pieces once. This will toast the edges of some of the onion and release the frangrance of the spices. Scrape everything into a 6-quart pot.

3. Add the broth, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a gentle boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, get the rice noodles ready. Put the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover them with hot tap water. Soak the noodles for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are tender but a little firmer than you want.

5. If you are able to slice the beef thin enough, you can just put the beef in the bowl with the noodles and it will cook in the hot broth. I have found though that it is difficult to slice the beef thin enough even if I freeze the beef first. SO I usually throw the meat into the pot for 1-2 minutes before serving.

6. Divide the noodles between 2 bowls. Ladle bubbling broth into the bowls.

7. Serve it with a traditional “table salad” of cilantro, basil, serranos or jalapeños, bean sprouts and lime wedges (oh, and don’t forget the hoisin sauce and Sriracha!)


1 India December 10, 2012 at 4:36 am

Just made this pho tonight and it was delicious! The broth turned out so well – your directions were really easy to follow. Thank you so much!

2 CJ @ Morsels of Life November 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Your pho looks quite scrumptious! I’ll have to give it a try. :)

3 Katie November 28, 2012 at 5:27 am

I would love to make this, but I live in the UK and I’m pretty sure we can’t buy cans of chicken broth. Is this just chicken stock, could I make my own?

4 Patricia January 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Hi Katie,
Homemade chicken stock would be even better for this (I don’t usually have homemade hanging around so the can/carton of stock or broth is what I use most often).

5 Sapuche March 22, 2009 at 12:37 am

The photos on your website are just amazing, and the pho pictured here looks super authentic. I lived in Vietnam for six years, and I’m betting that this recipe would do my taste buds a world of good right now. Thanks for sharing this!

6 Patricia March 23, 2009 at 11:34 pm

@Sapuche, Thanks so much! The first time I made this soup I was so blown away I had to make it again the next week. The clove and star anise make it so special.

7 Maggie March 16, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Yum! I’m still craving star anise after making braised red cabbage with it last week and I have all the ingredients for this. It’ll be my first homemade pho!

You need a DVR. I can’t stand watching commercials so I tape everything and watch things at least 15 minutes late so I can skip the ads.

8 Patricia March 17, 2009 at 7:05 am

Star anise is wonderful. Good luck with the Pho (I love this broth).
I do have DVR… but sometimes I watch live tv anyway – I know.. that’s silly :)

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