Sunday, January 5, 2014

Vietnamese Chicken & Beef Pho

Pho -- For the broth:

  • 2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound total)
  • 4-inch piece ginger (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 pounds beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 pound chicken backs/necks
  • 5 star anise (40 star points total)
  • *optional* 1 pound piece of beef chuck, rump, brisket or cross rib roast, cut into very thin 2-by-4-inch pieces 
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (I only use Red Boat, highest quality and no preservatives)
  • 1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar (if available, not critical)


Thinly sliced fresh raw onion (use Mandoline if possible)

Bean sprouts

Fresh torn Thai Basil

Fresh torn 



1. Roast the meaty parts in Grapeseed or Olive Oil in large metal soup pot. While meat is roasting, slice onions and ginger into large chunks and char using cast iron skillet or thick metal pan. Make sure to open windows and use exhaust fan as the charring process will create smoke.  Char for 15  minutes, onions and ginger will soften and become sweetly fragrant. Use tongs to occasionally rotate them and to grab and discard any flyaway onion skin. You do not have to blacken entire surface, just enough to slightly cook onion and ginger. Remove blackened parts before adding to soup.
2. Add 6-8 cups of water, although I like to add 1 container of Organic Beef Broth for extra flavoring along with 5 cups of purified water. 
3. Add dry spices, salt, fish sauce. Simmer slowly uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. Boneless meat should be slightly chewy but not tough. When it is cooked to your liking, remove it and place in bowl of cold water for 10 minutes; this prevents the meat from drying up and turning dark as it cools. Drain the meat; cool, then refrigerate. Allow broth to continue cooking; in total, the broth should simmer 3 hours.
4. Strain the pho broth using a fine mesh strainer. 
5. Use a shallow ladle to skim as much fat from top of the pho broth as you like. Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, fish sauce and yellow rock sugar but be cautious because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted so they will dilute the flavors.
6. Prepare noodles according to package directions. Fill saucepan with water and bring to boil, add noodles. As soon as noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10-20 seconds), pull strainer from water. Empty noodles into bowls. Add very hot broth and top with garnish.
7. Place slices of cooked meat, raw meat and tendon (if using) atop noodles. Garnish with onion, scallion and chopped cilantro. Finish with black pepper.
Now, keep in mind that most Vietnamese pho eaters probably wouldn't mix chicken with beef in one broth but I actually prefer the deep flavors of the beef broth with the light chicken meat. Enjoy your food however you like~
Happy slurping!

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