Saturday, May 17, 2008

Beef Tonkinese Soup (Pho Bo) Made Easy

Despite the old rumours that beef Tonkinese soup (Pho Bo) is time-consuming and complicated to make, it's actually very easy. In fact, the longest part and the best part in making Pho Bo is the broth. Being vietnamese, I have to admit that I've become incredibly picky when it comes to eating the tasty and deliciously aromatic soup. I have my share of favourite spots to savour Pho Bo one of which is Pho Zen (near my place) on which I had written a short article last November. That post received numerous hits that I got myself to finally post the recipe of the most popular soup eaten and served around the world.

The recipe normally calls for hours of simmering the soup, but I'm going to cheat a little by giving you a short-cut to the highly-seeked recipe, which will still result in an authentic tasting Pho Bo. The short-cut....

... the Pho Bo broth cube...
This cube will cut the simmering time in half. It's a time saver for those who don't want to spend time cutting different types of beef parts and bones, like me!
This little fellow can be found in any asian grocery stores.
The rest is easy, sliced sirloin or flank steak on the left, and cooked and sliced round beef/brisket.

Clockwise starting from top left, to make the broth:

Star Anise pods, fish sauce, yellow onion and ginger. And again, the Pho Bo flavoured cube.

Dried string-like rice noodles

Coriander and scallions to garnish

Preparation time: 30 minutes, cooking time: 1 h 30 minutes
The broth can be prepared during the weekend to be served during the upcoming busy week. It can also be frozen for later cravings.

Recipe "au pif":
1 lb round beef or beef brisket
1 lb flank steak or raw beef sirloin, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, peeled
1 cube Tonkinese soup broth (Pho bo flavoured cube)
3 star anise pods
1 whole fresh ginger root (about 2 1/2 inch), rinsed and mashed in mortar
3L (12 cups) water
1 tbsp fish sauce (nuoc mam)
1/2 lb string-like rice noodles (bun)
small pinch of ground white pepper
Garnish and accompaniments:
1 cup bean sprouts
2 sprigs of scallions, sliced
2 finger-length red chilies, deseeded and sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
sprigs of mint leaves
sprigs of coriander leaves
bottled chili sauce or chili paste
Clean round beef/brisket with 2 tsp salt

In a large pot, bring the water, round beef/brisket to a boil, skimming off any foam that floats to the surface. Add the ginger, onion, star anise and the "pho bo" cube. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 1 hour until the beef is tender. Remove from heat.

Remove the beef from the stock. Slice the beef brisket into thin slices and set aside. Strain the stock and return the clear soup to the pot. Season with the fish sauce and ground white pepper, and keep the soup hot over very low heat for about another half hour.

Bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and boil until soft, about 5 minutes or longer as needed. Remove and rinse with cold water, then drain.

Transfer the rice noodles to large soupe bowls and top with bean sprouts, onion, beef brisket slices and the raw sirloin/flank steak slices. Pour the hot soup into each bowl. The flank steak will partially cook (best when medium rare - a bit red/pink) in the hot stock. Garnis with scallions, coriander and mint.

Serve hot with chili sauce, sliced chilis and a zest of lime juice.

Serves 4 to 6 people.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful presentation. This recipe for one of my most favorite meals, has inspired even me to give it a try!

QlinArt said...

Hi Anonymous, it really is very simple and so tasty - just the aroma of the broth will make your stomach growl. Enjoy.

bbeausej said...

Excellent recipe. Super tasy and very easy to make, thank you so much for posting it!

I'm in Montreal too, so I'll try to hit up Pho Zen :)



QlinArt said...

I'm glad you really liked it!

Anonymous said...

What a terrific recipe!
I got all my ingredients from Kim Phat supermarket in Montreal.
The house smelled amazing.
I doubled the recipe and omitted the fish sauce (I find it too empowering). It was just like at the restaurant!
Thank u sooo much!

Anonymous said...

I used to live in Montreal 15 years ago and ate the best Pho bo there, since I moved to Sherbrooke city I haven't found one decent Restaurant here. I simply love your recipe. It's so delicious, faster, much easier to prepare and way cheaper. I only changed the mint leaves for Basil. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!! o((~_~))o