The Le/Smith Family Phở Recipe
After running a few Pho classes for friends and not running more this year, I've decided to post the recipe and instructions. This recipe is my mom's with a few Ming adjustments. The recipe has been a hit with friends and family alike.
You may notice there's no salt in the recipe. If you use a good quality Vietnamese Fish Sauce (not Thai), you won't need to add salt.
Pho is popular in Vietnam, where it's eaten for breakfast and lunch. The toppings, the sweetness or savouriness of the broth depends on the region you're visiting. In Hanoi (Northern Vietnam), they serve it with fried dough, while Saigon (The South) serves with bean sprouts and basil/mint. There's chicken Pho and beef Pho, and even vegetarian Pho. Don't get me wrong; Pho is not a simple dish. It has complex flavours that meld together after hours of prep and cooking. Don't worry; it's totally worth it.
There is one thing I want to provide clarification on. The pronunciation. Please don't so Fo or Foh... it's Phở... pronounced FUH --> click here to hear it pronounced.
1 pound of beef marrow bones or beef knuckle bone
1.5 – 2 pounds of beef spare ribs, whole or large chunks - with meat on them
1 pound beef neck bone or an extra pound of beef rib meat (optional)
1 whole stewing chicken
Cinnamon sticks (you will need 3-4)
1 package Whole coriander seeds 1 package
1 package Whole star anise
1 package Cardamon pods (green or black if you can find them)
1 package Cloves
2 onions White onions
1 clove of Garlic
Ginger (1 large piece, if you have extra you can freeze it)
Fish sauce (try to get good quality Vietnamese and not Thai)
1-2 bunches of Green onions
1 pound thinly sliced rib-eye (in the Asian grocery store, you'll find this frozen near the hot pot section - if you like lots of meat, buy more; however there will be meat from the ribs)
1-2 packages of vermicelli noodles, the thick kind. it will say Banh Pho on the package.
Bean sprouts (desired amount)
Thai basil (desired amount)
Limes (desired amount)
Green or red chillies if you want (desired amount)
Cilantro (desired amount)
Vietnamese style soup meatballs (found frozen near the fish balls)
The Night Before Cooking Day Homework
In a large bowl, soak your bones for 1 -2 hours, replacing the water every 30 mins. You want the water to become clear (ish) with no traces of blood.
Cut your chicken in half if it’s a larger chicken, and in a separate bowl, soak your chicken, draining the water every 30 minutes. Drain, and place the chicken into a bowl, cover and put in the fridge until tomorrow.
Cover marrow bones and spare ribs with water in a stockpot. Boil for 10 mins. Drain in a colander and rinse the meat, removing any scum/blood or fat. Wash your stockpot and add your bones/ribs back. If your fridge is not big enough to hold your stockpot, just place the bones into a storage container.
On the bbq char your onions (skin off), and ginger – place into a storage container cooking day
Pho Cooking Day
2 small or one large onion, halved and charred
150g ginger, sliced down the centre then charred
3-4 cinnamon quills
6 cardamom pods
1.5 tbsp coriander seeds
4 cloves of garlic, skin on
1-2 pounds of marrow or knuckle bones
1-2 pounds of beef spare rib bones (large chunks)
1 pound beef neck bones or extra spare rib bones
1 whole chicken
25-30 cups of water + 5 cups extra for halfway through the cooking process
Seasoning for stock
3 tbsp white sugar
½ cup Fish sauce
If you're not using MSG use 1 extra tablespoon of sugar and use 2/3 cups of Fish sauce instead of 1/2 cup
1 pound of thinly sliced rib eye
Extra meat from the short ribs
In the stockpot, layer your marrow or knucklebones on the bottom, then the meaty rib ones on top and aromatics into a large stockpot and cover with 25 cups of water. If your bones are larger than you may need a little more than 25 cups of water. The bones should be submerged in water- bring to a gentle boil. Do not add the chicken yet.
In a frying pan, toast your spices including your garlic for 3 minutes. Place it into your cheesecloth or spice bag and add it to the stock.
Add your sugar and fish sauce, and MSG if using to the stockpot when the water is boiling, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 2-3 hours. Do not boil.
After 3 hours, carefully remove your short ribs, and place them into a bowl. Use some tongs and a large wooden spoon or ladle. You want the ribs to cool a bit before removing the meat to serve with your Pho.
Skim any scum or fat that has risen to the top.
Add your whole chicken and green onions (2-3 stalks), and simmer for another 2 hours.
After 2 hours, taste your stock and adjust your seasoning with sugar, fish sauce, msg and if needed. Start with another 1/2 cup of fish sauce.
Simmer for another hour.
After 1 hour, strain your stock into another pot - discarding all your bones, saving the chicken meat for your Pho or as a snack later.
The broth should be fragrant, beefy and savoury, with a hint of sweetness. Keep warm on the stove while you prepare your noodles and toppings
Prepare your rice noodles, per package instructions, prior to serving. You can make them up to an hour ahead of time, as long as you strain and rinse them in cold water to prevent overcooking.
Prepare your toppings and arrange them on a plate.
Assemble your Pho
Place rice noodles into your bowl, top with raw beef and your rib meat.
Ladle over the hot stock. The meat will cook to a medium-rare - if you want your meat fully cooked, cook the meat in hot water in a separate pot
Serve with your toppings and enjoy!!