Vietnamese pho
4th April 2011

Vietnamese pho

By Emma Photography by Emma
 

In the middle of last year I was fortunate enough to be able to take three months off work to go and explore the world.  My journey took me to the banks of the Yangtze River, to the fast-living streets of Hong Kong, to a sleepy town in the Arctic Circle where the Aurora Borealis danced above our heads in the midnight sky.  I spent autumnal afternoons foraging for golden chantarelles in the Swedish countryside, I rubbed shoulders with celebrities whilst dining at The River Café in London and I joined the cue that forms nightly outside of Pho 14 (a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris) as customers eagerly anticipate the bowls of steaming pho flavoured with anise, fresh Vietnamese herbs and wedges of lemon.

I made this pho for the first time last week and the aroma of the spice-scented stock as it boiled away on my stove immediately took me back to Paris, to Pho 14, to our table strewn with herbs, to the sound of Parisians conversing in their sing-song French.

Thank you to Morgan who shared this recipe with me after a trip to Vietnam.  There is something special about sharing and passing on recipes.  I imagine this recipe has been passed down from generation to generation and for me to now have it to cook from and share with other people makes the experience all the more meaningful.

Ingredients

Serves 4
  • --
  • 1kg beef marrow bones and brisket (Available from the butcher. 1kg cost me $2.50!).
  • 3.5 litres of water
  • 1/2 piece of star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • ¼ tsp peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 50 gm ginger piece, skin on, grilled
  • 1 onion, peeled and grilled
  • ½ tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups mung beans
  • 500 gm flat thin rice noodles
  • 20 slices of beef fillet, cut thinly
  • 1 tbsp peanuts, pounded firmly
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1 bunch spring onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • 1/2 cup anise basil leaves, or Vietnamese mint
  • 2 limes, quartered

Method

  • --
  • 1. Bring 1 litre of water to the boil. Blanch marrow bones and brisket for 5 minutes, remove and discard water.
  • 2. Bring remaining 2.5 litres of water to the boil, add star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, fish sauce, grilled onion and ginger, bones and brisket and simmer for 2 hours. Remove any scum intermittently. Remove the bones and strain well through a fine muslin cloth and return stock to the heat.
  • 3. In a small basket (or sieve) heat bean sprouts in hot water for 30 seconds.
  • 4. Place mung beans, herbs, spring onion and limes on a large plate along with a wee bowl of fish sauce.
  • 5. Cook rice noodles, strain well (saving the water) and place in 4 bowls.
  • 6. Heat beef fillet slices for 3-5 seconds in the reserved water and place 5 slices in each bowl, ladle over hot broth.
  • 7. Serve the bowls of soup and then allow people to add their own accompaniments.
  • --
  • NB I found that the stock was far tastier the day after I made it so I recommend making and then leaving it in the fridge overnight to use the following day.
 

COMMENTS

  1. morgan

    YUM! Did you love it Emma! Such an amazing recipe! (and beautiful amazing photos as always).

  2. Emma

    Hi Morgan!
    I have been meaning to send through this link to you and say a big thank you for sharing your recipe! I am glad you found it though =) I totally LOVE the recipe. Such fresh, beautiful flavours. I think next time I am going to make 3 or 4 times the amount of broth and freeze what I don’t use.
    Happy cooking!
    Emma

  3. This looks so good! Perfect for this nippy weather we’re having. We went to Hanoi at the start of this year and despite the winter, I didn’t have nearly as much pho as I wished for. Only 1 beef pho and that was at our hotel! I imagined that I’d eat from little street vendors making pho all day, every day, year after year. The kind of vendor that has mastered their craft to a very, very high degree.

  4. Emma

    Hi Genie,
    Thanks for your message. You are right this soup is perfect for this chilly weather that has so suddenly come our way!
    If you give this recipe a go then let me know what you think.
    Happy cooking!
    Emma

  5. Julian Michell

    Hey , just wondering why you discard of the meat and bone juices…

  6. Emma

    Hi Julian,
    You add the bones in order to draw flavour from them for the stock and then once you have boiled all the ingredients together you throw away the bones, strain the liquid and then reserve the stock to make the soup. I hope this makes sense. Let me know if you make it – it is certainly worth the effort and makes a deliciously tasty and healthy soup!
    Happy Cooking!
    Emma

 

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