I’m a person who rarely goes out to eat, which why this blog, unlike most Vancouver food blogs, isn’t centered around restaurant reviews. Not being able to try foods that everyone else take for granted (ie the poutine) is definitely a drawback, but this isn’t about poutine, it’s about Pho (pronounced fuh), a Vietnamese noodle soup.
Now I’m no expert, I don’t have the experience like pho restaurants nor the time to make a really great beef broth and contacts to get authentic ingredients. I’m also pretty sure that at its greatness it must be had on a rainy cold west coast day at an actual restaurant, but for people who don’t have that, it’s not that hard to make at home.
The key is a very good broth and the secret to an excellent beef stock is roasting beef bones before simmering all the goodness out of them. You want to get that delicious caramelisation on the bones and onions which infuse into a hearty stock. After that it’s a short couple of steps in adding aromatic ingredients, cooking the beef and rice noodles and adding everything together.
Pho is one of those dishes that satisfies in winter months and rainy spring days while warming you from the inside with hearty beef and tingles the lips with spicy chili oil, but can be light enough with the crunch of bean sprouts.
- beef bones
- 2 onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- mixed frozen vegetables
- 1 to 2 bay leaves
- ½ tbsp cloves, whole
- 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 1 lemongrass stalk
- 1 chunk of ginger
- 1 shallot
- beef, sliced
- soya sauce
- 2 bunches of rice vermicelli
- Bean sprouts
- Chili oil
- Thai basil
- Lime wedges
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Place the beef bones and one quartered onion in a pan, mix them together with 1 tbsp of olive oil with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes.
- Place the roasted mixture into a stock pot with the other onion, mixed veggies, and bay leaf. Cover with water until there is one inch above the bones. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 2 hours.
- Let it cool before placing the pot into the fridge overnight. Skim the fat off and strain the stock.
- Take the cloves and broken cinnamon sticks and toast till fragrant.
- Take 2-4 cups of the beef broth (depending on how big the serving bowls are. You will need 1 to 2 cups of broth per person, my bowls were small.) Place into a smaller sauce pan with the toasted cloves, cinnamon sticks and the rest of the aromatic broth ingredients.
- Bring to a low boil and simmer.
- At this time, take your sliced beef, mix with a bit of soya sauce, salt and pepper and cook. Typically beef is sliced thinly and cooked with the very hot broth, but I could not slice my beef that thinly so decided to cook it before hand.
- Cook your rice vermicelli as per instructions on the packaging.
- Once your beef and noodles are cooked. Place noodles in your bowl and top with the sliced beef. Strain your broth and pour over the noodles and beef.
- Top with bean sprouts and cilantro. Sprinkle extra soy sauce and chili oil on top. Serve with side of thai basil and lime wedges.