‘Tis the season for short days, long nights, chilly weather, cozy layers… and lots of Pho!
Let me tell you about my very first Pho experience (it was awful, by the way). My friends had been raving on and on about Pho, which I quickly learned is pronounced, fah, and decided they wanted to plan a Pho night. It was Ramadan, and I was starving to begin with. The place was nothing to write home about. It included lots of basic chairs and tables, some Vietnamese décor, and of course only accepted cash.
A friend of mine, we’ll call her Dee, sat next to me. When I stared blankly at the menu and then started to panic because I had no idea what to look for, Dee told me to follow her lead. So I did. I ordered the beef Pho, added hoisin sauce, no garnish, no limes, and no siracha. It was the worst experience of my life. By the time we left, I had barely gotten through 1/4 of the Pho, coughed up the cash and promptly left. Only to cry all the way home. I never wanted to see another bowl of Pho again.
Note to self: don’t try new dishes in Ramadan when you’re already starving.
It wasn’t until I told my best friend, Z about my experience that I dared to try Pho again. Z’s exact words were “No, you did it wrong. You need to go with someone who knows how you like to eat. Let’s go to Pho together.” I learned, with my best friend taking the lead, that I actually love Pho. With lots of limes, sprouts, basil and a dash of siracha. Turns out, our taste buds are pretty similar and she knows how I like to eat.
Since then, I began craving steaming hot Pho bowls on cold dreary days.
As much as I love Pho, I hate waking up the next day with my face and fingers double their size. The amount of sodium in restaurant pho is just out of control. Making pho at home means you can really control the amount of salt you add to the broth.
If you didn’t know, Pho takes about 8 hours of stovetop cook time. 8 hours I don’t have. Enter the crockpot, this magical appliance that lets you cook food for long periods of time (4-8+ hours) without much active time. I adore my crockpot. No, really, I do. It’s great for soups and stews, and my yummy pulled beef tacos and BBQ Beef. So if you don’t already own one, I suggest adding it to your basic kitchen appliances.
Adapted from here.
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced into ½ inch rounds
- 1 3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 4 lbs Beef bones
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 garlic cloves (whole)
- 1 cardamom pod
- 1 teaspoon fennel
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 3-4 Tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 8-9 cups water
- 1–2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 4-5 oz rice noodles
- 1 lb beef steak thinly sliced
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 ½ c bean sprouts
- Limes, cut into wedges
- 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro
- 2 cups Fresh basil
- Sircaha, to taste
- Hoisin Sauce, to taste
- Bring a large pot with water to a boil over high heat. Add the beef bones and boil on high for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the spices and garlic for 2-3 minutes, then add to the crockpot
- Place onion rounds and ginger on an aluminum-lined baking sheet
- Broil for 5-7 minutes on each side, until charred. Add to the crockpot.
- Keep an eye on the boiling bones. A froth will form. Remove the froth and discard as it's boiling
- After 10 minutes, remove the bones from the water and discard the water.
- Add the bones to the crockpot
- Add 9-10 cups water to the crockpot (fill to about 1 inch below the surface)
- Add fish sauce, sugar and salt
- Cook on high for 8 hours
- Strain the broth through a sieve before serving
- Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and place in each bowl.
- In a small skillet sauté the steak until cooked through
- Place the noodles in the bowls, top with cooked beef and green onions
- Using a ladle and a sieve, pour the broth through a sieve into each bowl
- Put all your garnishes on small plates on the table, each person garnishes as they like