Pho has always been one of those things I love about Vietnam. It’s warmth and spices bring such bright amazing flavor! Truly, it’s a dish of love and patience; so much so that this Hearty and Authentic Vietnamese Beef Pho with Flank Steak would have Sinatra singing “Un-pho-gettable, that’s what you are…”
Is this Pho-real?
Okay, okay we know it’s pronounced ‘fā’, but don’t blame us for playing with words a bit. And if you do blame us, after eating this Hearty And Authentic Vietnamese Beef Pho, you’ll forgive us!
As with most cuisines, many of the best delicacies come from scraps. Traditionally, Oxtail, a main component of good Pho, was one such cheap meat. If you’ve browsed for Oxtail at your local grocery store lately, you’ll notice it’s now a premium meat! But don’t worry, we’re moving up the vertebrate to neck bones! Neck bones are generally a bit tougher, but have all the same amazing flavor as Oxtail. Luckily, with 8 hours of simmering, that toughness is null and void. Yes!
Pho, considered the national dish of Vietnam, is a mainstay dish for many Vietnamese. Originating in the north of Vietnam, this almost clear, but hearty soup has much influence from France (Vietnam’s former colonizers). Interestingly enough, there is a theory that the name Pho came from the French soup “pot au feu.”, which is also a beef and vegetable soup. Unlike in the US, pho, the common person’s’ street food, is eaten for breakfast! The soup is cooked overnight and with all that amazing fragrance of beef, star anise, and cinnamon, people line up around the block for a hot bowl!
Variations in Recipes
If you look up recipes, there are about a thousand different versions of this soup. I like to start with my meat slightly browned because it adds additional flavor, but others suggest throwing the meat and bones in the pot without browning. Many recipes also use a secret ingredient of daikon root! I personally haven’t noticed a substantial difference in flavor using daikon vs carrot and celery as aromatics. Other recipes recommend charring the vegetables! Any of these ways make for a wonderful base broth.
How Should I Top This Thing?
There are so many options… This Hearty and Authentic Vietnamese Beef Pho with Flank Steak is the ultimate customizable dish! You start with your base broth and rice noodles, then the party begins! Let’s start with meat: traditionally you can add Vietnamese meatballs, ribeye, flank steak, sirloin, and pretty much any other tender thinly sliced beef. Next are the herbs and vegetables which include bean sprouts, slivered sweet onion, pickled red onion, mint, Thai Basil (or regular basil if in a pinch), cilantro, jalapeno, crisp dried chilies, and green onions. And finally, the condiments which include additional fish sauce, lime, sriracha, and hoisin! Everyone has their on preferences, so leave the plethora of options out for your guests to choose.
Tips and Tricks
- After you make your Pho, it’s absolutely delicious to eat… but if you give it time to refrigerate you can skim much of the excess fat off the top.
- If you make the broth ahead of time, always keep the noodles separate. Rice noodles will quickly degrade into the soup if left there. Also, Pho will stay good in the fridge for up to 4-5 days and for months in the freezer. We usually separate our Pho broth into 2 quart portions and freeze them in Ziplock bags.
- Generally, you can strain your Pho using a colander or strainer and cheesecloth. I typically skip the cheese cloth (even though it works well) and use an extra fine mesh sieve strainer. That’s the one I use specifically and it also comes in handy for sifting flour and powdered sugar.
- I haven’t found much of a difference in flavor for cooking more than 8 hours. I’ve left my Pho cooking for up to 16 hours and while it does concentrate the broth, it doesn’t necessarily add anything.
- The only potential gluten interference is in the hoisin sauce. I have a strong preference for Lee Kum Kee Gluten Free Hoisin. It’s delicious and tastes how hoisin should taste.
- Running out of time? If you have an Instapot, I suggest using the cooking time and temp on this recipe and decreasing the water and broth to what will safely fill you Instapot. And if you’re really in a pinch, The Forked Spoon has a great 20 minute recipe, as Jessica will tell you, it’s not your restaurant quality broth, but it works!
- If you like this Hearty and Authentic Vietnamese Beef Pho with Flank Steak, you should also try my Fresh and Vibrant Vietnamese Braised Lemongrass Pork Bowl. You won’t regret it!