Friday, 5 September 2014

Vietnamese Pho Soup

Vietnamese Pho is one of my favorite foods.  In Toronto there were several really great Vietnamese restaurants with fantastic soup.  Stockholm is much less saturated with authentic Asian restaurants.  When I finally did find an authentic Vietnamese restaurant, the soup cost 150 kr.  The exchange on that is approximetely $23!  For soup!  If I ever wanted to be truly reunited with my pho, I would have to learn how to make it myself.  I've tried before and failed.  I've heard it said that a true pho broth should take 6 hours and I always imagine there being a gaggle of old Vietnamese grandmas in old Vietnamese grandma heaven looking down on me and having a good laugh.

Turns out that a decent pho can be very easy to make and quite fast too.  Here's the recipe I used via the Food Network with a few alterations according to the soup I used to get in Toronto.

1 packet flat rice noodle, prepare as directed, drain and put aside

12 ounces lean sirloin beef, fat trimmed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, halved
1 4-inch piece of ginger, halved (calls for unpeeled but I peeled mine, either is fine I'm sure)
3 cups low sodium beef broth
3 cups water (pho is a light broth so I actually added a little more water than this)
5 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 tablespoons fish sauce

4 scallions
fresh cilantro
fresh bean sprouts
fresh Thai basil
fresh lime

Prepare the rice noodles as the label directs.

Place a large pot over high heat. Poke the meat all over with a fork to tenderize it and season with salt and pepper. Sear the meat until slightly cooked but still rare, 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer to a plate. Add the onion and ginger to the pot; cook about 4 minutes (I added a bit of canola oil to the pot at this point because the ingredients were sticking and the bottom of the pot was going to burn) . Add the broth, 3 cups water, the star anise and cinnamon, reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the scallions and tear the cilantro. Thinly slice the meat against the grain.

Add the fish sauce to the broth and boil 5 minutes. Discard the ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick. Remove and slice the onion. 
Divide the noodles among 4 bowls; top with the broth, beef, scallions, cilantro, bean sprouts, Thai basil and onion with a side of lime wedge.*

You will also need some Hoisin Sauce and Sriracha sauce.  Each person uses these to their own taste.

*These fresh ingredients added at the end are essential for a good Pho.  Never leave them out and if you ever go to a Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto and you don't get a plate of these on the side, they assume you don't know any better.  Ask for it.


  1. Hi Angeline, stumbled upon your blog from expat group. If you ever go to Paris, do visit the 13eme arrondissement. There are lots of many vietnamese restaurants and I love pho just as much so I'm sure you will be ecstatic! among the famous ones are Pho 14 and Pho near metro maison blanc. Take care!

  2. Hi! I do try to get to Paris as often as I can. I will certainly check out the 13eme arrondissement next time I'm there. Thanks for the tip.