You know those foods that you wind up craving at random hours of the day (or more frequently—night) that seem even more crave-worthy because they’re usually the type of food that you go out to eat for? There’s something about a stereotypical “restaurant food” that makes it seem so much more unattainable and coveted.
One of those foods? Definitely pho. On a cold, blustery day, I’ll eye the little Vietnamese restaurants down the street, fighting an inner battle between wanting to save money and wanting to devour an enormous bowl of rice noodles and beef broth.
The logical fix would be to make it at home to save money, but I’ve always been sort of terrified to make pho. I think it has to do with all the times my friends and I have gone to Vietnamese restaurants and I’ve heard them say things like “This pho is not impressive at all” or “I’ve had way better than this”.
I think a lot of people are notoriously picky about their pho—which is fine! It’s totally fine to have high standards for the food we eat. But that also made me scared to tackle something like pho. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it 100% authentic and I was worried that when people would taste it, they would just say something like “This pho is not impressive at all” again.
But my desire to try and eat new foods ultimately outweighed my fear, and I figured it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I deviated from an authentic pho—as long as I got some of the flavors right. And turns out it isn’t too hard to throw together a tasty beef broth! I took the shortcut by using beef bouillon cubes, but adding some supplementary flavors (like the star anise and coriander) and really allowing the broth to simmer helped turn the broth into something a little more special.
This pho is incredibly easy to throw together—the broth is delicious and savory and the ultra thin slices of meat just barely get cooked by the hot soup, making them wonderfully tender.
1 beef bouillon cube
2 star anise
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
6 cups water
dash of salt
thinly sliced beef tenderloin or other meat
bunch of greens
1. In a large pot, combine all the broth ingredients and set to boil. Once it’s hit a rolling boil, turn the heat down to low and allow broth to simmer for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.
2. In your bowl, add rice noodles that have been soaked in water, thinly sliced meat, and greens.
3. Bring the broth back up to a quick boil. Then pour broth into the bowl over the noodles, meat, and greens, allowing it to cook the meat and soften the noodles. Allow it to sit for a while as this happens.
4. Top with bean sprouts and a drizzle of sesame oil.