Pho (pronounced fuh—rhymes with duh) is a Vietnamese beef and noodle soup. The raw meat is cut really really thin and is cooked when boiling broth is poured on top. I don’t know where to get kosher Vietnamese food, so I had to make it myself.
Of course, I’d heard about pho, but the first time I decided I wanted to try it was during lunch at work one Thursday. Every day, unless I’m too busy, I get together with some coworkers to eat lunch in our office kitchen. We mostly bring our own lunches, and one of my coworkers brought Trader Joe’s pho—just add water and microwave. Now, I love Trader Joe’s a lot, especially for their kosher selection, but I knew they definitely didn’t have kosher pho, so I went ahead and put it on my menu for the following week.
This was also a good excuse to check out the new butcher on the Upper East Side, Prime Butcher Baker (you may have seen my photographs on Facebook). At first, I thought I’d make the beef stock myself, too, but since my freezer is filled to the brim and I was only cooking for two AND the butcher had beef stock.
Now, if someone could just teach me how to eat noodle soups without making a mess, I’d appreciate it. Do you use a spoon? A fork? A knife…
- 4 cups beef broth (I used butcher-bought, buy you can make your own if you have time/are feeling less lazy and more adventurous)
- 2-3 whole cloves
- 2-3 star anise pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Some ginger (I keep grated fresh ginger in my freezer and when I need to use it I just break a piece off. It’s hard to measure it, but it was probably equal to a few thin slices from a fresh root)
- A pinch of black peppercorns
- 1/2 lb rice noodles
- Peanut oil
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 1/4 pound very very thinly sliced beef (mine said “fillet.” That’s what the butcher recommended. He also sliced it really thin for me), cut into strips
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- Small bunches of mint, cilantro and Thai basil (or regular basil if you can’t find Thai)
- Bunch of bean sprouts
- Lime quarters
- Sriracha sauce
- Heat the stock in a pot over medium heat.
- Gather the cloves, star anise, cinnamon, ginger and peppercorns into a cheesecloth or mesh strainer and add to the broth. Heat to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until fragrant. Season with salt, if necessary and discard the spices.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and fry the shallots until evenly brown, about 5 minutes.
- Cook the rice noodles according to the packaging directions.
- Divide the noodles and meat evenly into the bowls.
- Bring the broth back to a boil and ladle into the bowls. Top with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges and sriracha sauce.