Next to teriyaki, I´d argue pho is one of Seattle´s favorite cheap eats. Nothing tastes better on a cold, rainy day than a piping hot bowl of noodle soup filled with fresh herbs, a kick of lime, and a dash of sriracha sauce. I remember many dark grey afternoons when I was in high school, slurping some pho in Capital Hill or on the Ave before perusing the local music stores (that´s right….we bought cds then!)—the quintessential Seattle experience.
Recently, I went to Vietnam for about a week after finishing up my year long teaching contract in Korea. I was SO excited. Vietnam was everything I was expecting and more. I only had time to go to Hanoi but I was instantly drawn in to the noisy motorbike crammed streets and the smell of boiling broths being ladled into metal bowls. You can read more about my experiences in Vietnam on my old blog Bibimbazzled
When in Hanoi, I was guided to a pho joint down the street by the hostel owner and had the most amazing pho of my life. Upon returning to Seattle, I knew I had to at least TRY to recreate that bowl of happiness.
Pho may seem intimating at first, but fear not. I made this in about an hour and it took very little extra work and only a few ¨hard to find¨ ingredients. This is definitely a cheaters pho, in that I didn´t boil meat bones for hours on end, but the taste was excellent and I certainly didn´t FEEL cheated when it came to the flavor of the soup. In fact, it certainly tasted more rich and flavorful than the pho you might get at a cheap take out place. Homemade is always the best.
Grace´s On the Go Pho
For the Broth:
- 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
- 2 Yellow Onions, halved
- 1, 3-inch Piece of Fresh Ginger, cut into rounds
- 2 Cloves Garlic, whole and peeled
- 4 Quarts Low-Sodium Beef Stock
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 3 Star Anise Pieces
- 3 Whole Cloves
- ⅓ Cup Fish Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons Packed Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
For the Pho:
- 1, 12-Ounce Package of Bahn Pho (Flat Rice Noodles)
- 1 Pound Flank Steak (thinly cut beef)
- 2 Jalapeños, cut into rounds (or thai chilies!)
- 2 Handfuls Bean Sprouts (optional)
- 1 Bunch Fresh Thai Basil (regular basil is fine too)
- 1 Bunch Cilantro
- 1 Bunch Fresh Mint
- ½ White Onion, sliced paper thin
- Sriracha and Hoison sauce for serving (optional)
- Lime Wedges for Serving
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic when the oil just starts to simmer. Cook, turning a few times, for about ten minutes.
Add the beef broth, fish sauce,and sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low. Simmer, partially covered, for at least fifty minutes and up to 3 hours if you like a richer flavor. After desired taste is reached, strain broth and add back to the pot. (If you are not serving the soup right away, you can store the strained broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.)
Place the beef into the freezer for at least fifteen minutes. Using a very sharp knife, slice the beef as thin as possible. (Or, you you have bought thin sliced beef, just cut it into bite sized pieces).
You have two options with the beef. You can serve it, in frozen pieces, raw as a side condiment to be added to the hot soup. When the raw beef is added it will cook slightly in the hot broth. Or, I decided to add the beef to the broth while it was simmering for about 3 minutes. This way, you can chose to have your meat more well done if you´d like.
Put the pho noodles into a large metal bowl and add boiling water. Let steep about 10 minutes or until soft. Drain the water and divide the noodles into your serving bowls.
Ladle some broth over the noodles in each bowl. Serve jalapeños, bean sprouts, herbs, onions, lime wedges, and sriracha and hoison sauce on the side so each person can add in what they want to their pho. Don´t forget chop sticks and soup spoons!