Traditionally this rich, beefy broth from Vietnam is made using beef bones and boiled for hours like any good stock. In reality we don’t always have time to do this, particularly if you fancy a quick pho fix when you get home from work.
So…I cheat. I’ve found a secret ingredient that gives you a lot (admittedly not all) of the flavours of an authentic pho without the hassle and it means your pho can be ready in half an hour! My secret? This genius paste which you can get from most good Chinese supermarkets.
Here’s my quick and simple pho recipe. I do like to add in some of the spices to get a more authentic taste but you don’t have to add all of these.
250g good quality and fresh boiling beef steak
2 heads pak choi (or any Asian green veg you fancy, beansprouts are also really good but add at the end to ensure they don’t go soft)
1 small red onion
1 red chilli
4 spring onions
2 tbsp the cheaty pho paste
Rice noodles/ ramen noodles (I would always usually go for the traditional rice noodles but this time we tried ramen and they were great)
2 tbsp beef stock
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 stick lemongrass (bash with a rolling pin first)
Handful fresh coriander
Handful fresh Thai basil (if you can get it)
1. Finely slice the red onion and half the spring onions (save the rest for garnish) and add to a large wok with the paste. Lightly fry until the onions are soft, don’t let the paste dry out.
2. Boil a kettle and add the water to the wok, mix the paste in vigorously and cook on high heat.
3. Add the beef stock, cinnamon stick, lemongrass, cloves, chilli and star anise.
4. Add fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice until you’re happy with the flavour.
5. Chop the ends off the pak choi and add the whole leaves to the broth.
6. Finely sliced your beef into very thin strips and leave aside, the key is not to overcook it so it should only be added at the very last minute.
7. In a separate pan, cook your noodles until soft and drain.
8. Turn the broth up to the highest heat until it’s boiling, then add the beef. Cook it for a minute (it shouldn’t need more).
9. In individual bowls add some noodles first, then ladel over the broth with beef and veg.
10. Lastly, garnish with coriander, more chilli, spring onions and a squeeze of lime.
Et voila, pho bo without the hassle!