Monday, 19 September 2011

Pho Bo

I'm a huge fan of the Vietnamese noodle soup, pho (pronounced 'fur'). Recently, I stumbled upon the sawtooth leaf herb in New Loon Moon in Chinatown, and after spotting some Vietnamese basil, both prominent pho garnishes, I knew it had to be made.

Beef bones were procured from the butcher, and they barely fit in my stock pot. Unlike Chinese noodle soups, the onion and ginger to make the stock are charred to add smokiness.

After simmering for hours, filling the house up with heady smells of cinnamon and star anise, the broth is strained, meat sliced and the classic pho noodles are added. Herbs are served on the side for the diner to add as they wish.

Freshened with a squirt of lime juice, this home-made version was gorgeous (though perhaps Cafe East's version pips it to the post - but theirs is VERY good). The broth was deeply meaty, a thin layer of fat coating the surface and making it impossible to emerge from the table without a splattered t-shirt. I added only slices of brisket; in future, beef tendon and raw slices of steak will be going in for sure.

Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup)

Serves 4

For the soup:

1 kg beef bones - you want some with marrow in them. Alternatively, use half beef bones and half oxtail
2 onions
6 slices of ginger
4 star anise
1 stick of cassia bark or cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp sugar
400gr beef brisket, in one piece

Put the bones in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes - this helps keep the broth clear. Discard this water and wash the bones and the pot out thoroughly. Add the bones back in and just enough water to cover. In a griddle pan, cook the onion and the ginger without oil until they are charred. Add them to the stock pot. Toast the spices and also add to the pot. Simmer gently for 1.5 hours, then add the beef brisket and simmer for a further 2 hours.

Remove the beef and set to one side. Strain the stock.

400gr pho noodles - if dried, cook in boiling water for 3 minutes (until tender) and drain.
A handful of Vietnamese / sweet basil
A handful of sawtooth leaf
1 lime, quartered
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
Fish sauce, to taste
Chopped birds eye chillis
100gr beansprouts, blanched

Add the noodles to each bowl. Slice the brisket thinly and add to each bowl, then top with steaming hot broth. Serve with the herbs and condiments for each diner to add to their own taste.


Kathrine B said...

I've been reading (and LOVING) Hollow Legs for ages now and pretty much everything you make or write about looks amazing.

I'd be really interested to know what, if any, foods you really don't like and why. You seem to have such a love of most things I just wondered if even a foodie has secret hates!

For the record, sweetcorn that's not on the cob makes my stomach turn. And marrows. YUCK.


Hollow Legs said...

Product Pixie - thanks for your comment. I can't bear sweet potato or butternut squash; I think it's the sweetness of them. I've managed to get over swede and carrot...

Marrows are pretty watery and flavourless, I'll give you that!

The Grubworm said...

I've yet to attempt making Pho. I've always felt quite daunted by the stock, which is odd because I usually love doing that. Time to fix methinks.

One of the things that intrigues me about the process is the charring of the onions and ginger. I would have thought that would have added bitterness rather than smoke to the mix. Interesting that it doesn't.

Oh yes, big pan love to your beautifully weathered grill pan. I can practically taste the meaty patina on it. Gorgeous.

Dan Toombs said...

Hi Lizzy

I came across your blog a few days ago and have been really enjoying your recipes. I'm going to try your Pho recipe at the weekend with a bit of an Goan twist.
I've got some beef bones roasting in the oven right now as I write!
Thanks for the excellent recipes, brilliant writing and pictures.


ALS said...

Is that pronounced 'Fur Bur'? Because that would be awesome.