More than delicious, this soup has been described as “an explosion of taste from the first contact of the taste buds with this burning liquid perfumed with spices and magic herbs!“
Traditionally, beef pho requires a lot of preparation and cooking time.
Even though it takes several hours to prepare, this might be one of the quickest beef Pho recipes ever.
- 20 quarts water
- 2 lbs shank or marrow bones
- 2 lbs of oxtail
- 1 lbs of bavette or flank sliced thinly
- 1 large carrot
- 1 large white onion
- 1 large piece of ginger
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 2 pcs star anise
- 1 cinnamon
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns rice noodles
- sliced green onion Lime
Making Your Pho
- Rinse bones with cold water and place into large stockpot and cover with 10 quarts water.
- Bring the bones to a boil and let simmer for 3 mins.
- Drain pot and rinse bones in cold water and return to stove with a fresh 10 quarts of water.
- While waiting for step 2, slice ginger, carrot, onion lengthwise and place on a baking sheet and broil on high until it chars the surface of the vegetable.
- After step 3 is completed, add vegetable to stockpot with the fresh water.
- Toast star anise, cinnamon, and black peppercorns and add to stockpot.
As youʼre adding the vegetables, bring the contents of the stockpot to a boil and skim any gunk that comes to the surface. Let simmer for 4 hours on medium heat.
- Place bavette in freezer for at least 20 mins for it to firm up making it easier to slice thin.
- Slice bavette into thin slices remembering to slice across the grain.
- Add to the beef one teaspoon of cornstarch, one teaspoon of fish sauce and half a teaspoon of thinly minced ginger.
- Place rice noodles in pot of boiling water. Take off the heat once noodles are in the pot and let sit for 10 mins.
- Drain and rinse noodles with cold water. Arrange noodles in bowl.
- Taste stock and add fish sauce and salt to taste.
- Heat noodles in the bowl up by adding stock to the bowl of noodles without anything else in it. Hold the noodles back and pour out the stock back into the pot. Let the stock come back up to a boil, then take the bowl of noodles, add the remaining ingredients such as the beef, green onion and Cilantro.
- Ladle hot stock into the bowl over the beef allowing the heat from the stock to “cook” the beef.
- Add lime and garnish.
What is Beef Pho (phở) Tai Soup?
Phô (or in Vietnamese phở) is the traditional soup of Vietnam consumed at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Its recipe varies according to the region: in the north, the broth is more important while in the south, it is the garnish that matters.
The base consists of rice noodles cooked in a beef broth simmered for days with cinnamon, ginger, star anise, cardamom and grilled onions. Thinly sliced beef is added along with lemon juice, Thai basil leaves, coriander, chives, bird pepper rings. The soup is usually accompanied by a bowl of pickled onions.
Originally, it was a simple soup composed of a clear broth made of marrow bones and beef, beef strips, onion, spices, nuoc mam and flat rice pasta accompanied by aromatic herbs that was eaten for breakfast.
As early as 1945, the chicken phở appeared in the capital. As it entered Southern Vietnam, the original beef version evolved to include more and more meat varieties, mung bean sprouts (soybean sprouts), other aromatic herbs (such as Thai basil), raw onion rings marinated in vinegar, and Hoisin and Sriracha sauces, more in keeping with the culinary opulence and taste of Southerners.
This popular dish, never served for celebrations or special occasions, can now be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
All over the world, wherever there are Vietnamese restaurants, this dish is a must on the menu. Especially in North America where there is a large Vietnamese population of immigrant origin, the soup phở is almost a culinary institution.
Thousands of restaurants specialize in phở and offer several variations: beef and/or beef balls, chicken, tripe, and even pork. In France in the big cities, especially in Paris, there is also a wide choice of places to enjoy this popular dish.
Be aware that there are many ways to make this dish, and these days there is little time to simmer a broth for hours. Most use beef bouillon cubes or even bouillon cubes phở and add sodium glutamate (a flavour enhancer that is very popular in Asian cuisine in general).
To the taste, this is of course very flattering, and the use of the cubes is very convenient. However, for the connoisseur, making a phở with bouillon cubes no longer makes any sense or pleasure, since all the special flavor of this dish comes from the long cooking of the bones, meat, onions and spices… and the know-how of the person who makes it.
The origin of the soup phở remains completely unclear. No one knows who gave it its name or who created it. And yet, the phở has become a symbol of Vietnamese cuisine, and has even been elevated to the rank of an exceptional culinary heritage, under the aegis of the European community and chef Didier Corlou, during a series of conferences held in 2002 to learn more about this dish.
The first traces of the phở would be located around 1925 at Hà Nội where the archives mention its existence. However, the phở currently known as Hà Nội (capital of Vietnam) would probably originate from the city of Nam Dinh, about a hundred kilometers from the capital, in the Red River Delta, according to Mr. Nguyễn Đình Rao of Unesco. This city, about thirty kilometers from the sea, had at the beginning of the 20th century a tradition of noodle soup with fish, crab or shellfish.
The presence of the many Frenchmen would have made this soup evolve with the use of beef, very little cooked by the Vietnamese at that time. Indeed, the Vietnamese considered beef as an essential part of cattle and therefore rarely had the opportunity to taste its meat.
According to another hypothesis, Nam Dinh having been a large colonial textile center with a strong presence of French employers and Vietnamese employees, a cook of the city would have invented the phở inspired by the pot-au-feu (hence the unconfirmed legend of the name phở which would have taken its source) by accommodating the taste of the French with beef and the taste of the Vietnamese with a broth and rice pasta. There is no certainty on this subject as the stew is so far from our dish.
If the phở is known to originate from Hà Nội, it is certain that the first known phở sellers are mostly from the village of Vân Cù, in the province of Nam Dinh. Indeed, one of the first phở stands was opened around 1925 in the capital city by a cook from this village in Hàng Hành street. He was followed by many other villagers from Vân Cù who migrated to Hanoi to escape poverty and to open stands / gargotes of phở. According to the Association of the inhabitants of Vân Cù in Hà Nội, five hundred people from Vân Cù would have sold soup phở far from their village and 80% of the owners of stalls or restaurants of phở in Hà Nội would be from this village. From the tradition of noodle soup to seafood, the cooks of Vân Cù would have improved this dish with beef by settling in the capital.
Another less known hypothesis: Would there have been a Chinese influence? The consonance of “fun” or “fen” (close enough to the word phở) to designate in Cantonese flat and wide rice noodles, as well as the slight similarity of the ingredients, would be a possibility.
Indeed the “Cantonese beef chow fun” (also in soup version) is quite disturbing with slices of beef, “hor fun” or “fen”, ginger, onions, chopped chives, which unlike phở, came back in a soy sauce and oyster sauce. The spices of the pho broth are very close to those used in some beef broths in the south of Canton.
In conclusion, according to M. Nguyễn Đình Rao of Unesco: “The phở combines cultural interference with local ingredients […] and this combination has resulted in a universal soup. “Thus, whatever the origin of phở, all these mixes and assimilated culinary influences from abroad or within the nation itself (from North to South) will have enabled the Vietnamese to improve a simple soup kitchen into a typical dish, today unquestionably a symbol of Vietnam.