I have eaten Pho at Vietnamese restaurants around town, but after talking with a Vietnamese friend who has made it, I was a little intimidated. However, these recipes removed the mystery, and simplified the process, making a quick and easy soup with no sacrifice to depth of flavor.
VIETNAMESE NOODLE SOUP
8 ounces rice noodles
12 ounces thinly sliced beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, halved
1 4-inch piece ginger, unpeeled, halved
3 cups beef broth
5 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
4 green onions
2 jalapeño peppers
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 to 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
Prepare the rice noodles, as the label directs.
Season beef with salt and pepper. In a large pot over heat, sear beef until charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add the onion and ginger to the pot, cook about 4 minutes. Add the broth, 2 to 3 cups of water, the star anise and cinnamon, reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the green onions and jalapeños and tear the cilantro.
Add the fish sauce to the broth and boil for 5 minutes. Discard the ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick. Remove and slice the onion.
Drain the noodles and divide among 4 bowls. Top with the broth, beef, green onions, cilantro, bean sprouts, jalapeños and onion.
Recipe adapted from Food Network
SPICY SHRIMP NOODLE SOUP
3 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sambal oelek
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cinnamon sticks
1 (8-ounce) bottle of clam juice
1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
1 star anise
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces uncooked rice noodles
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
12 small fresh basil leaves
4 lime wedges
Combine beef broth, water, garlic, sambal oelek, fish sauce, soy sauce, cinnamon sticks, clam juice and ginger in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 3 1/2 cups (about 12 minutes). Add shrimp, cook for 4 minutes or until done. Remove cinnamon, anise and ginger, discard. Cook rice noodles according to package directions, drain. Place 1/2 cup of noodles into each of 4 bowls, and top each serving with 1 cup stock mixture and about 5 shrimp. Sprinkle evenly with bean sprouts, cilantro and basil. Serve with lime wedges.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, January/February 2013