Friday, September 10, 2010

Pho Bo - Beef Rice Noodle Soup

You would think Pho would be one of the first entry I write about, since this is a blog about Vietnamese cooking. Two years later, I finally did it! Pho is something I grew to appreciate. I never really care for it when I was younger because I much prefer Bun Rieu or Bun Bo Hue. It's very intimidating to make pho for my family, especially for my dad. My dad can eat pho three times a day, every day. It is his absolute favorite, and he's not afraid to tell you what he thinks. We often order pho at Vietnamese restaurant but he is never satisfied. The broth has to be clear, the spices should not be overwhelming, the noodle has to be the right texture. My mom loves it when he says nothing compares to her pho, but I'm sure that is required by all Vietnamese husband.

I wanted to try my pho recipe using a crock pot because it's suppose to reduce a lot of time hovering over the stove. I, however, was not able to go on with my day without checking the crock pot every now and then. Yes I realize it defeats the purpose of a slow cooker but hopefully I will perfect my slow cooking method in the future.

People say I have a knack for making soup because I do make them very often. If I can enjoy a steaming bowl of soup in 90 degrees weather it's because I can taste the love. When I make soups for my family and friends I want them to taste the love as well so I put a lot of time and effort when I make soups. I don't like to take short cuts or substitutes when it comes to my soup. I truly believe there are crucials steps that makes a great bowl of soup and this is certainly true for pho.

1. Roasting the Ginger and Onion:
Some may think this step is unnecessary but it makes a huge difference. Roasting these two ingredients brings out their sweetness in taste and smell. I love the fragrance of roasted ginger!

2. Time can tell: I swear our parents has a six sense to detect how long we simmer the bones. My mom can always estimate how many more hours I should have simmered the bones to make a better broth. The longer you simmer your bones the better.

3. Spices:
Spices should not overwhelm your broth, the last thing you want is your pho to smell like herbal medicine. I like to add my spices in a tea strainer at the very end for like 30 mintues. You can get a bag of mixed pho spices at the Asian market but all you really need is star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. You do not need a lot just a few of each spice will suffice.

4. Rice Noodle (Banh Pho): My mom sometimes precook her noodles to save time but I am very much against this. Cooked noodles breaks so easily. Rice noodle should be al dente, it's soft enough to eat but still has a little bit of chewiness to it. You can buy the "fresh" rice noodle in the refrigerated section or it will work with the dry ones as well. You will just need to soak the dry one a lot longer. Portion some noodles in a strained ladle and place it in boiling water for like 5 second. Remove from boiling water and run the noodle under warm water to wash away the excess starch. Strain excess water from noodle and place noodle in the bowl.

5. Herbs and Garnish: I know this should be personal preference because some people just can't eat herbs or onions. If you are a first time eater, please try it with basil leaves and sawtooth herb because it really does complete the soup.


Ox Tail
Beef Bones
Beef Trife
Beef Shank
Eye Round Beef Thinly Sliced
2 Large pieces of Ginger1 Large Yellow OnionRock SugarStar Anise
Cinnamon StickCloves
Fish Sauce
Mushroom Seasoning
Rice Noodles
Green OnionsCilantroLimesBasil LeavesSawtooth Herb


Soup Pot
6 Quart Slow CookerTea Strainer
Ladle Strainer

Start Time : 6:00 AM

1. Rinse your bones with plenty of salt under running water.
2. I recommend parboiling your bones twice in a regular pot before transferring them to the slow cooker. Slow cooker will not get to a boiling point where you can remove the excess scum. I rinse the bones with cool water in between each boil. Transfer your bones to the crock pot and fill it up with water and turn on your cooker.
3. Broil the ginger and yellow onion in the oven until the outside is charred. Remove and place in cold water to help peel the skin away.
Time: 7:00ish AM4. Add ginger, yellow onion, rock sugar, 2-3 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning to the crock pot. At this time you can leave the crock pot alone for now.
5. I check my slow cooker every hour because i'm just anal. I have to be in control and make sure it's doing what it's suppose to. You really do not have to do this, it's just me.

Time: 3:00 PM

6. Wash the beef shank and beef tripe with plenty of salt.
7. Taste the broth and now you want to add fish sauce( approx. 1 tablespoon) to your liking, and couple dash of ground pepper. Add more sugar if necessary. 8. The water should have reduced a bit. Add the beef shank and tripe to the crock pot. If there is not enough room, store some of the broth in a smaller pot and save for later. Leave crock pot alone.

Time: 6:00 PM

9. Beef shank and tripe should be tender enough, or you can leave it in the cooker longer. I remove shank and trip from cooker and let it cool. Add the excess broth you save from before back into the cooker.10. Soak "fresh" rice noodles in cool water.
11. I'm ready to thinly sliced my eye round beef. If you cannot slice thinly, place the beef in the freezer for an hour and would be so much easier. If you ask the butcher at your grocery store they could also shave your beef for you.
12. Prepare your garnish. Finely chop your green onions, cilantro, and yellow onions. Cut limes into wedges.13. Thinly slice your beef shank and cut your trip into smaller pieces.

Time: 8:00 PM

14. Place your tea strainer with the pho spices in the crock pot for 30 minutes.
15. Prepare noodles the way I have stated above. Place raw beef slice on top of the noodles as well as the beef shank and beef tripe.
16. Again the cooker does not get to a point where it is boiling so I place broth in a smaller pot to boil. Pour boiling broth to your prepared bowl. The meat should be submerge in the broth to cook thoroughly.
17. Add desired garnish and enjoy :)