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Jan 28, 2008 08:41 AM

Quoc Viet pho base

Someone gave me a container of Quoc Viet brand pho broth base. The instructions are very vague. it seems that I am supposed to boil some brisket and throw away the water, then add the brisket back in the pot with more water, ginger, onion, and the pre-packed bouqet garni, plus the soup base. Has anyone used this stuff before? Should I use the whole container? any other tips?

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  1. Based on my observations of typical 'pho base' ingredients, the best thing you could do is to a) send it to a friend for melting snow, or b) throw it away! It's mostly salt, correct?

    If you search this board for title:pho you will get some good recipe suggestions. Besides a strong non-salty beef broth made from bones, Chinese five spice powder and especially star anise are key flavors.

    Pho (in the U.S.) is made with any and all beef parts - well done brisket and tendon to thinly sliced rare 'steak'. The beef pieces, hydrated rice noodles and very hot broth are combined just before serving; veggies (sprouts, purple basil), hot and fish sauces are sides to be added at the table.

    I'd recommend cooking the brisket separately. If you skim the brisket cooking liquid frequently it might be an acceptable addition to the broth but I don't know (don't cook brisket very often).

    3 Replies
    1. re: DiveFan

      thanks for replying. i do know how to make pho from scratch, thanks. i am skeptical about stock cubes and such as well, but my friend brought this pho base to me and said her mother uses it at home and it comes out very good. her mother is an excellent cook and owned a successful VN restaurant in the US for over 25 years and is one of my chef heros, so I trust her judgement on the pho base, though it is insta-food and not chowish.... she couldn't specify the proportions to me, that's all. I just need to know if I should throw the whole thing in or not.

      1. re: luckyfatima

        the instructions on my fresh rice noodles says to boil for 10 SECONDS

      2. re: DiveFan

        a cook at a local pho restaurant, told me that the best way to deal with fresh rice noodles is to essentially boil them separately for about 90 seconds or until al dente just before putting them in the serving bowl.

      3. I have seen multiple recipes which say to briefly boil the meat and bones and throw away the water and then start over...I suspect that some "nasty" stuff is thrown away and that there is plenty of good stuff left in the meat and bones.

        update: I just checked another recipe, the process is called "parboiling" and it removes impurities...boil meat and bones vigorously for 2-3 minutes, then drain, rinse meat and bones, thoroughly clean out the pot, then continue with recipe.

        1. boiling the meat first for a couple of minutes and then rinsing it makes for a clear broth. The soup base is probably full of salt so I would add it to taste after simmering your meat for a while.

          1. I actually have used this mix in the past when I lived in Texas -- I found that it was as close to a restaurant pho as I could make at home. It's not as clear a broth as I'd like but it was mighty tasty. In fact, I'm trying to find a source here in Madison, now that I no longer live in Houston.

            4 Replies
            1. re: mermodfreres

              so this is several years on from the original post, but did you ever happen to find this mix in Madison?

              1. re: hippopotame

                Nope....never found it in Houston. I ended up ordering it directly from California. Funny thing though: when I ordered it, the lady said that she had another customer in Madison: Saigon Noodle!

                1. re: mermodfreres

                  hah, the secrets to saigon noodle revealed :) thanks!! we used to see it at all the asian markets in NJ, and were surprised that we couldn't find it anywhere when we moved to Madison. we'll stock up next time.

                  1. re: mermodfreres

                    my understanding is that very few places actually make pho from scratch anymore, so i wouldn't be surprised about the soup base at all.

              2. Hi lucky,
                Well, the instructions are confused indeed. As a Pho lover and Pho cooker, I think what it means is boiling the brisket for a few minutes (5 min with high heat) until the brisket is cooked. By doing so, the brisket will release the dirty elements and the bad smell away. To me, brisket by itself has no flavor at all. But a few white crispy thin slices of briskets in a combination of different color will make the bowl of pho more attractive and delicious. Moreover, this is the main key of Pho's flavor: grilled one onion and ginger until you can smell the flavors. Then wash the burned outer coat. Don't forget to tie a few preroasted anise pods and cloves in a cheesecloth or place in a spice bag; add all to the soup at the begginning for flavor. Keep low heat for 30 minutes for better flavor, Then throw away onion, ginger, anise, and cloves. Then add Quoc Viet base. Taste first, then add salt, sugar, (opt: fishsauce). Let it dances for another 5 minutes together before turn the heat off. Put cilandro and green onion, spice basil on a seperate dish for creating flavor when eating Pho.
                However, Pho is not good if noodle is not cooked right. In a boiling water, put dry noodle in for about 4-6 minutes or until you don't see the uncook white color when break the noodle, but don't ever overcook!. Then rinse through the cold water until it is clean and cold. In doing so, the water will clean all the bad smell from the rice noodle.
                Then before serving, put noodle in microwave for about 3 minutes to warm the noodle up. And you can add a few slices of meat if you want to. You can add a little hot Chili Sauce or soysauce if you want...So enjoy PHO!