PHO at home?
[Moved from the Manhattan Board]
Now that the dog-days of August are upon us, I was wondering if anyone has a good, not-too-difficult recipe for a steaming bowl of Pho.
Pho is really not well suited to making at home.
To get anywhere near to the distinctive Pho flavor, you have to make an absurdly complex broth with marrow bones, oxtail, star anise, charred vegetables and a lot of other ingredients, and skim it frequently over many hours of simmering. Kind of like the Japanese with their ramen, I don't believe Vietnamese make Pho at home very often; it's the quintessential street food.
Carb Lover is the quintessential pho maker around here - she's Vietnamese, I believe and she makes a very elaborate broth. Search her old posts and you'll find many posts about making pho. But, if you just want to keep it very simple, just make or buy a really good beef broth, add a pinch of sugar, a little fish sauce, then boil and pour over paper this (your butcher can do this) slices of maybe strip or sirloin steak, mung bean sprout, cooked thin vermicelli noodles, fresh basil, and sliced jalapenos.
So untrue! Yes, the broth is complex, but you can make a very good one at home. And once you do, you can freeze it and have it anytime. The rest is easy.
I usually make chicken pho, which is a little easier. The recipe I use for the broth is from Vietnamese Cooking by Diana My Tran.
I save up leftover carcasses from 2 or 3 chickens, then simmer with an onion or two and a big thumb-sized piece of ginger, all of which have been cut and charred under the broiler, and about 4-6 star anise. I simmer for about 2 hours or more, though the recipe calls for less. Strain, adjust seasoning.
Cook chicken breasts in broth. Remove and shred. Cook pho noodles. Put drained noodles into bowls, top with chicken and broth. Add fish sauce and juice from a quarter lime (throw the lime in the bowl too). I serve with chopped hot chilis, Vietnamese/Thai basil, cilantro, scallions, mint, bean sprouts, and sometimes some shallots.
I do urge you to try making it at least once. It's so nice to have at home!
It's not that difficult. I just had some for lunch. The broth freezes well, so you can make up a huge batch and have every day. This recipe is a good starting point.
I char the onion and ginger over a direct flame on the stove. Just stick a fork in it and toast it like a marshmallow (I usually cut the onion in half).
Give it a try. It's worth it.
I cheat on this a lot. You can certainly make the stock and home but the effort, cost (to get really good stock) and time makes it pretty much not an option for me. I've also tried the instant pho mixes that comes in jar. Do not go this route.
The last option which has become my favorite is when I go out to eat pho, I just ask to purchase a quart of broth from the proprietor. My fav place in Washington DC is Pho 75. They sell a quart for $3. I buy a bunch and freeze. I then buy fresh noodles and veggies/herb and you have a magnificent meal without the hassle.
Pho is something I love to pick up and bring home to enjoy since it's so cheap. Usually when I do this I ask for an extra container of broth (chicken), with which I can then make my own pho, or use in other cooking preparations. It's usually about $2 or $3 for a quart of broth, and saves me a lot of time and mess.