I live in Houston TX and one thing we are know for is our diversity. We are the most diverse city in the country and with that diversity comes fantastic food from around the world! The Asian community in Houston is expansive, the restaurants are amazing and I cannot think of anything you could need that you won't find in the hundreds of stores.
Pho, pronounced "fuh" is a Vietnamese noodle soup that has a number of components that come together to make together to make this aromatic dish the fan favorite that it is.
To make a great Pho broth is a time taking labor of love, but the good news is that it freezes well and it will taste even better the next time.
Beef Shank Bones
2 Medium Onions
2 Thumbs Ginger
1 Bulb of Garlic
1 Cinnamon Stick
3 Cardamom Pods
6 Star Anise pods
8 Whole Cloves
1 Teaspoon Coriander Seed
1/4 Cup Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
Thinly Sliced Rib Eye
Sriracha and Hoisin Sauce
We start off with beef shank bones. Cover with water and bring to a boil until we get all the debris and gunk bubbling to the top.
Set your oven to broil, cut onions, ginger and garlic into large chunks and pop in. Keep a close eye on it so that it does not burn. You just want it slightly charred to release an aromatic flavor.
In a skillet, toast cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, cloves and coriander until fragrant and darkened, but not burnt!
By this time you should have a fatty grey cloud on top of your bones. Pho broth should be clear so we do not want any of this.
Scoop it out with a spoon, take out your bones, pour out the water and then rinse the bones.
These are my aromatics when i was done toasting them.
Allow them to cool down then transfer into a spice pouch or tie in a cheese cloth securely.
By this time your onions, garlic and ginger should be ready. Turn it around as much as you need to to get a nice golden to dark brown color, it took about 15 minutes to get this color. You do not have to char every individual fleshy scale of the onion.
Add onions, ginger, garlic and the spice pouch into the pot with the bones and pour in 3 liters of water. Don't worry about the water not looking clear, we will skim it as it cooks. Bring pot to a quick boil then turn heat down to simmer and allow to cook for 6 hours, skimming off any fat and/or foam that floats to the surface.
If you do not intend it to serve your Pho the same day, you can save yourself this trouble, refrigerate it and easily remove the congealed fat the next day.
3 hours in hours, add brown sugar and fish sauce, cook, simmer for another 3 hours. At the end of 6 hours, taste for seasoning, add salt of needed.
Now, disclaimer - i added non-traditional ingredients that are not in any recipe I've seen because i wanted to kick up the heat (Cameroon pepper) and because i guess as a Nigerian I just tend to reach for the Knorr cubes. You do NOT have to do either of these.
Remove the bones from the pot and cut off any meat from the bone and set aside to add back into your broth after straining. Strain the broth using a fine cheese cloth, preferably and it will filter your broth better than a sieve.
Cook your rice stick noodles according to package instructions, it's usually blanching it in hot water for a couple of seconds then straining...
Transfer to a bowl...
Place meat on top of noodles...yes, raw meat. Ladle over boiling broth into the bowl, it will instantly cook the meat.
If you buy your meat from the Asian store, you can buy meat for Pho that comes already sliced almost paper thin. If you do not have access to an Asian store, pop your meat into the freezer until it is firm but not frozen, about 10-15 minutes, then using a very sharp knife you will be able to get thin sheets of meat.
Continue layering with slices of chili, cilantro, bean sprouts, mint leaves and squeeze in some lime juice. Dot with sriracha and hoisin sauce (optional).
The same Pho broth about 2 months later. :)