Hey Everyone… I’m having fun with so many projects right n0w (not sure I have time for Thanksgiving this year 🙂 The Raglan Sleeve Top is almost ready to go and my Jean Sew Along in the Fitting and Perfection Group on Facebook has really helped me leap forward in my understanding of how to make jeans and pants fit… I’m fine tuning all the new information I’ve gleaned and I’m going to update my Jean Fit Workbook. In the kitchen I’m on my way to mastering the art of making Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup). I’ve tried to make it many times in the past…ending up with faintly flavored broth, not yummy at all 🙁 My husband and I go and have it at least a couple of times a week… It can get expensive, plus I was a little worried about how much salt we were consuming, so I was really motivated to figure out the secret! If you’ve never heard of this soup, let me tell you, it’s amazing. Because Vietnam was ruled by the French many years ago, this soup has French influences… The Vietnamese people really didn’t eat meat until the French came in and started sacrifacing their cows for meat. They were left with all the tough cuts of meat. So, they started using it to make soup.
Pho has a really unique flavor… star anise, fennel, black peppercorns, casia bark (cinnamon stick), cardamon pods, blackened onions and ginger with the skins peeled off, beef bones, ox tail and some sort of roast simmering at the bottom of the pot… Yum.
I noticed that Craftsy offered a class called Vietnamese Classics: Pho, Noodles & Beyond, so I signed up and started watching it. I learned so much in this class (including the history of Pho)… Then I played with the recipe from class and finally started to get soup that smells and tastes similar to what I enjoy at Pho Restaurants.
Here’s how I make my Pho. First I rinse the bones (leg bones 6″-8″ long) and put them in a big pot of water and boil them to get rid of all the scum that comes off of them… Yup, it’s pretty gross… Here’s what it looks like.
I skim off the scum and gently boil the bones until the scum stops forming. I’m using about 7 or 8 pounds of bones for this soup. It takes about 10-15 minutes for this step.
Then rinse bones. Here’s what my bones look like after they are rinsed off.
Then the bones go into a clean pot (this is my 40 quart pot that was gift from a friend). You don’t need to use such as large pot, or make such a large recipe. Maybe try half this recipe. You need a rump roast, flank steak, chuck or some other cut of meat to simmer in the broth that will be sliced up and served with the broth (about 2″ pounds for a half recipe). In this batch I’m using some chuck steaks that were on sale. The idea is to have a piece of meat that’s approximately 2″ thick so you can cut nice slices out of it later. Nestle this meat under the bones so it doesn’t float to the top of the pot.
Here are my bones with the chuck steak nestled under them. Then I added 4 gallons of water and put that on to boil… this takes a while.
While I’m waiting I’m blackening up 5 onions and a 3″ piece of fresh ginger. I use a cast iron pan and cover them. Turn frequently so they get nice and burnt all the way around. The onions and ginger get peeled and put into the pot
If you browned the ginger long enough, the skin will just peel right off.
Then I cut the ginger into slices and peel the burnt skin off the onions… Here’s what they look like right before they go into the pot
The spices that are used to flavor the pho are toasted first. They go right into the cast iron pant and I heat them until they become very aromatic. I used about 20 star anise, 3 cardamon pods, about a tablespoon of cardamon seeds, 1/2 tablespoon of fennel seeds, 1 1/2 tablespoon of black peppercorns and about 3 inches of casia bark…if you can’t find that you can use a cinnamon stick. After they are toasted, I throw them in the pot (I don’t bother to put them in a muslin bag because I use a double mesh strainer to separate the broth from everything else later.)
I also throw in about 2 pounds of ox tail… don’t they look like flowers? (I know that “ox tail” sounds a little gross, but they really add to the super yummy flavor of this soup.) I add them to the fresh water and rinsed leg bones.
Finally, I add about 2 tablespoons of salt.
When the pot comes to a boil, I set a timer for 1 1/2 hours so I can pull out the chuck steak. The rest is going to simmer over night. The idea is to get a perking simmer, not a roiling boil, but not a whimpy simmer either.
After I’ve simmered this all night, I’ll share the rest of the steps with you.
One Tip for cleaning the pot used to get all the scum out of the leg bones…
I keep a big box of baking soda by the sink in the kitchen. It’s my favorite to clean almost everything… After scrubbing the inside of the pot with baking soda, here’s what it looks like. Notice the pot is starting to get “seasoned” from repeated uses… I think this will be one of my Pho pots. Stay Tuned for the rest of the process 🙂