Rare Beef Pho (Vietnamese Soup….with an Americanized shortcut)

I love pho.  I mean, I’m a little obsessed with it.  There haven’t been many weeks this year that I haven’t gone out for pho at LEAST once.  I have to admit though, that I am a little intimidated by Asian food when I cook at home.  It is one of the very best cuisines for my allergies, and the type of food I choose almost every time I go out, but somehow I have only ventured to try really basic stir fry at home.  I think it’s that everything is different, the spices, the techniques, the ingredients, and maybe just the fact that I didn’t grow up around anyone that knew how to make it, but I have always been a little afraid to try.

Recently I decided to give it a shot, to try to make pho at home, so I started researching pho recipes and almost gave up on the spot.  To make it authentically takes 1-2 DAYS, involves bone marrow and all kinds of strange ingredients (I refuse to touch bones or eat meat that wasn’t removed from the bone before I laid eyes on it….one of my little quirks), not happening.  So my experiment with an extreme shortcut to pho began and I have to say, it’s pretty darn good.  It has passed the test with a few pho-obsessed friends and I think I’m ready to share.

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Ingredients, for approx. 3 people:
– 20 oz Organic Gluten-Free Beef Broth
– 32 oz carton of Pacific Brand Organic Beef Pho Broth Soup Starter
– 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
– 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
– 8 oz grass-fed organic round steak sliced as thin as possible (I ask the butcher at the store to do this for me)
– 3 whole cloves garlic
– 1-2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
– 4 oz rice noodles (either pad thai style or vermicelli style)
– 3 tbsp fish sauce (get an authentic brand (one you can’t read the label of) not Thai Kitchen)
– 1-2 cups fresh spinach
– sriracha sauce to taste

About an hour before you want to eat dinner, put the steak strips, soy sauce and smashed but intact whole garlic cloves in a ziploc bag to marinate.  Every recipe I found had you put the steak in with no seasoning, which is how it is traditionally made.  However, when you aren’t making the authentic broth, the beef is very bland and I have found that this really simple marinade makes a huge difference.

About 30 minutes before dinner, put both types of broth, the chopped ginger, chopped garlic, and fish sauce in a large pot with a lid and bring to a boil.  Boil at a low boil / rolling simmer for about 25 minutes, covered.  Keep an eye on it, it sometimes has a tendency to boil over.  Side note – the reason for the two different broths is this: most recipes for pho call for cinnamon and anise to infuse the broth as well.  I have tried and tried but the flavor of these two is always overwhelming when I use an actual cinnamon stick.  The Pacific pho soup starter has both of these ingredients already in it so that guesswork is taken care of and I mix it with the regular broth so that I can still infuse it with ginger and garlic to my liking.

While the broth is simmering, prepare rice noodles according to package directions.  Once cooked, place the noodles in the bottom of the serving bowls.  Place fresh spinach on top of the noodles and place the raw steak (just the steak, not the garlic or soy sauce) evenly spread out over the bowl.  Try not to overlap the steak very much since the broth will actually cook the steak to rare in the bowl and if it is stacked on top of each other, it won’t cook properly.  See picture below.

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After simmering 20 minutes, strain the broth to remove the ginger and garlic pieces and immediately pour the broth in the waiting serving bowls, be sure the broth covers the meat so that it will cook it.  I like to add a little sriracha for some spice, that’s completely up to you though.

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Is it easier than going out for pho?  No.  Is it cheaper?  Honestly, probably not.  But it’s a fun, unique dish to make on your own and the best part is that when I make it at home, I can fully control the ingredients and knowing I’m eating all organic food and that I am not allergic to any ingredients is certainly worth it.  An added bonus: it’s delicious.  Hope you enjoy it too!

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2 thoughts on “Rare Beef Pho (Vietnamese Soup….with an Americanized shortcut)

  1. ozmundaregalis June 10, 2013 at 11:51 pm Reply

    Great shot at making pho! I would suggest using a whole onion and chopped daikon in your broth. If you have star anise, place two or three along with some whole black peppercorns in a cheese cloth and tie it into a small pouch, and place that in the broth as well. I come from a Vietnamese background, so my parents makes pho quite often, and these are what they put in their broth.

    • sarahefraser June 11, 2013 at 9:46 am Reply

      Thanks for the tips, I’ll try them next time I make it!

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