A pho recipe for everyone to enjoy!

Pho is one of my comfort foods.  I make it differently from my parents, from my siblings, from my girlfriend, and from my friends.  Everyone I personally  know makes their pho a different way.  What matters at the end is if it tastes good, to you.  Some people like their pho broth a little sweet and clear, some like it a little salty and light on the beef flavor, and others like it oily and very beefy.  The way you make pho is entirely up to you which is why I love it and why I think you’ll have fun with this recipe.

First, how many people do you plan on making pho for?  You and your significant other? Are others joining too?  You’ll have to adjust the ingredients accordingly depending on the amount of people.  Don’t worry though, you can’t go too wrong!  The below shopping list serves 2-4 people.

Disclaimer: I’m sure you’ve probably looked around on the internet for various pho recipes.  And it’s very likely that all of those recipes are different from one another.  Those recipes probably have precise measurements for each ingredient too.  This recipe won’t have much in terms of precise measurements, but I’ll try my best to give you some idea of measurement to help.  This recipe is for how I like making MY pho, but you are most certainly welcome to change it up to suit your taste too!  For example, not salty enough? Add more salt or seasoning! It’s entirely up to you to adjust the taste to your taste buds.  Make it yours as much as I’ve made it mine.  Lets start!

Shopping list

Pro tip! Most of these ingredients can be bought at your local Asian food market!

Broth

  • 4 pounds beef bones (neck bones, oxtail, etc.) 
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If you’re shopping at a non-Asian market, the beef bones will likely be on the top shelf above the other cuts of beef. At Asian markets, they’ll be readily available in plain sight.

Pho spice pack

A bag of Old Man Que Huong Pho Bac Spice Seasoning. This has all the herb spices like anise star, coriander seeds, etc. in it already.

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There is a white bag that you’ll have to place all the herb spices into. This will sit in the pot of water to help create the broth.

Noodles, toppings, and condiments

  • 2 packages of fresh rice noodles
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This is the brand of fresh rice noodles that I get for pho. It’ll be in the cooler area where most of the fresh noodles are. I like this brand because it doesn’t get mushy as fast, but it will absorb the liquid quick.

  • 2-3 pounds of beef sirloin roast or any lean beef meat

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  • 1 pack of Vietnamese bologna (green package with a white plastic tie)
  • 1 pack of Asian beef balls
  • 1 pack of Asian pork balls
  • 1 pack of jumbo shrimp (optional)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1 bunch of Thai basil
  • 1 medium-large lime
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)
  • 1 bunch of bean sprouts (optional, I don’t use it but still get it for others)
  • Hoisin sauce
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If you’ve never had hoisin sauce, you’ve been missing out! A staple in our household.

  • Sriracha sauce
  • Beef soup paste
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This is the brand that I get and what I’ve seen most people use. You don’t put this in the broth but as a condiment.

  • Fried chili oil (optional, can get very spicy)
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Fried ground chili oil gives a good spicy kick to your pho. Can be used for other things but do be careful. The pink cap brand like this can get really spicy if you eat too much of it.

  • Fish sauce
  • Fried garlic
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We loooooove fried garlic! We always make sure we have a jar of it in the cupboards. We love fresh garlic too but for pho, fried garlic works best.

 

Making the broth

Blanch the beef bones!

The purpose of this process is to get rid of the impurities in the beef bones so that it doesn’t make your broth taste funky.

1.) Cover the beef bones in a pot with cold water.

2.) Bring the water to a rolling boil.

3.) Let simmer for 20 minutes.

4.) Take the bones out and put them on an oven tray.

Roast the beef bones!

Roasting the beef bones will bring out that gooooood flavor for your broth.

1.) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) When the oven is ready, place the oven tray of beef bones into the oven.

3.) Let the beef bones roast for 15 minutes, then check to see the quality of the browning.

4.) If the browning is to your liking, then take the beef bones out of the oven. BUT do not turn off the oven yet!

Roast the onion and ginger!

1.) Place half an onion and the slices of ginger on an oven tray and put it into the oven.

2.) Keep an eye on the onion and ginger slices, making sure they do not get burnt.

3.) When the onion and ginger slices have browned a bit on the edges, take them out.

Broth time!

1.) Open up the pho spice pack and place all the herb spices into the white cloth bag.  There should be a white string to tie the bag.

2.) Fill a large stockpot 3/4 of the way with cold water.

3.) Then place the following into a large stockpot of cold water:

    • roasted beef bones
    • roasted half onion
    • roasted slices of ginger
    • pho spice pack
    • 1 tablespoons of salt
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Roasted beef bones sitting in the pot waiting for the other ingredients to join it for the broth.

4.) Bring the water to a boil.

5.) Then let the pot of broth simmer.

6.) While the pot of broth is simmering, you’ll want to work on getting the toppings and condiments ready!

7.) Keep checking the broth, tasting it and adding more salt if it’s not salty to your taste.

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What the broth will look similar to when it’s almost ready!

 

Preparing the noodles, toppings and garnishments

Soak the noodles!

1.) Take out the rice noodles from their bags and soak them in a large bowl of warm water.

Prep and cook the beef roast! Or steak! Or whatever cut you chose.

These directions are for a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot and for a beef roast.  If you do not have a pressure cooker, you’ll have to cook it old school style on the stove top.  Please make sure to look up the appropriate time settings on how long to cook your beef cut to get the meat to be ALMOST “fall of the bone” tender.

1.) Place the beef cut into the Instant Pot with a cup of water.

2.) Set the timer to be 45 minutes.  Go prep the other toppings while waiting!

3.) When the timer is up, take out the beef and cut it into smaller pieces.  I tend to slice the beef thin or in long chunks.

4.) This is an optional step.  If you have a strainer or cheese cloth to filter liquid, pour the liquid from cooking the beef into the broth stockpot through a strainer or cheese cloth to filter out the impurities.

Pro tip! If you’re an adventurous eater and have a very lean cut of beef, you can try slicing the beef into very thin slices and put them raw into your pho.  The pho broth, being scorching hot, will cook the raw beef to be about medium rare and medium.

Prep and cook the beef balls, pork balls, and Vietnamese bologna!

1.) Open up the packs of beef balls, pork balls, and the Vietnamese bologna.

2.) Bring a pot of water to a boil.

3.) Place the beef balls, pork balls, and the Vietnamaese bologna in the pot.

4.) Cook the balls and bologna for about 15 minutes.  If the meat feels bouncy/spongy then it’s done cooking.

5.) Take out the meat to cut when they’re finished cooking.  Cut the beef and pork balls into quarters.  Cut the bologna into slices, then cut those slices into quarters.

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Proteins from the top left going clockwise: thin beef roast strips, thick beef roast strips, Vietnamese bologna, beef and pork meatballs, and shrimp.

6.) If you have any other types of meat or shrimp, prep and cook them at this time too.

Prep the herbs and everything else!

1.) Wash the cilantro, Thai basil, and green onions very well.

2.) Take the bunch of cilantro and dice it.

3.) Dice the green onions too.

4.) Then for the Thai basil, you can just put that to the side as is or you can pluck the leaves.

5.) Then thinly slice the other half of the onion.

6.) Next, cut the whole lime into eighths (slices).

6.) Now, you’ll have something similar to the below photo:

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I have jalapenos sliced up and included too but it’s not necessary. It just makes it spicier. But if you like it spicier, by all means add it too!

 

Ready to eat!

Pro tip! It’s easier to eat pho with big pho/noodle bowls.  If you don’t have big bowls, I would suggest picking up a couple of them from the Asian market.

1.) Put enough rice noodles that have been soaking in water into a bowl.  A handful is usually enough!

2.) Put all the toppings, garnishments, and condiments that you want on top of the noodles.  I usually do the following:

  • a few slices of beef
  • a pinch of Vietnamese bologna
  • a couple pinches of the beef and pork balls
  • 2-4 shrimp
  • a pinch of green onions
  • a pinch of cilantro
  • a couple slices of jalapenos
  • a few leaves of Thai basil
  • a pinch of onion slices
  • a quarter spoonful of beef paste
  • a squirt of hoisin sauce
  • a couple squirts of fish sauce
  • a pinch of fried garlic
  • a quarter spoonful of chili oil
  • a squirt of sriracha sauce

If you have peanut butter, try it with a quarter spoon of peanut butter.  My girlfriend loves eating pho with a little bit of peanut butter.  I don’t mind it.  To each their own!

3.) Once you have all the toppings, garnishments, and condiments in your bowl, you’re ready for the broth.  Take a ladle and pour enough broth to cover the top of the noodles.  Caution: the broth will probably be VERY hot so be careful not to burn yourself!

4.) Mix everything together and eat!

 

Final thoughts

Adjust the ingredients to your taste.  Everyone is going to eat their pho differently and that’s why I love pho because it allows you to create your own without affecting the way others eat theirs. 

If you do not want to go through the process of blanching and roasting beef bones, you can replace the process by using beef broth or beef bouillon from the store.  You don’t need all the protein meats that I’ve listed either.  If you prefer to just have the beef balls only, then exclude the rest of the meats.  If you don’t like cilantro or can’t eat it, don’t include it!  Pho might take some time to prep, but when you’re eating it at home, not at the restaurants, it’s so much better!  Don’t be afraid to be adventurous.  Adventures make things exciting!