I was not introduced to authentic Asian cuisine until I took the plunge into the paleo diet. One of my all time favorite recipe developers, Russ Crandall with The Domestic Man, inspired me with his cook book, The Ancestral Table. This paleo cook book was so well thought out, and the recipes were not only authentic, their ingredients were simple and beautiful. At the time, Levi and I were stationed in upstate New York, where some of the foreign ingredients Russ called for were not in the local markets, so I did my best to substitute. Russ was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, where he has access to lots of Asian markets. Fast forward a few years and now I am in Pensacola, and Russ has gone North. Small world we live in! Now it’s my turn to indulge in these amazing markets Pensacola is home to!
Kasey, a great friend of mine was absolutely shocked with I had not heard or tried her most favorite dish, Pho. She swore up and down I was fixing to get hooked! So fresh, so healthy, so filling! She made a ton of claims on this soup, swearing up and down that I was going to absolutely die when I had it. She was basically right. I died. I could not get over the unique flavor of Pho, and the warmth of the spices. It was incredibly soul warming, filling, and lived up to all the claims Kasey made.
It’s always been part of my Italian background that food will bring you closer to those you love. It’s never proven me wrong. There’s nothing a warm, delicious meal cannot fix. I live for dishes that demand your attention, that captivate your taste buds. I especially love experiencing this with all my loves. Pho really is one of those meals that gathers the family around the table for another memorable dinner. I hope you love this recipe as much as I have, it sure is a beautiful display.
How to make home made Pho:
- First, you will make the stock that requires beef bones, chared onions and ginger, and spices. The beef bones needed for pho are ones that are filled with bone marrow. Bone marrow is loaded with nutrition that will be leached out into the soup broth in the boiling process. The best bones to select are oxtail, knuckle (as your butcher to cut in half to expose the marrow), short ribs, or leg bones. The beef bones need to be boil first, then be drained. Beef bones will release impurities, which is why you will want to drain the first boil. There will be foam at the top of the water when boiling, and it will stick to the pot. When draining the bones, give the pot a good rinse, as the scum will most likely stick. After the bones are drained, give them a good rinse off, too. Now your ready for your next step!
- Next, the onions and ginger need to be charred in the oven. This really deepens the flavor of the pho and adds a nice smokey undertone to the flavor. The smokey flavor of the charred onions and ginger compliments the aromatic spices beautifully!
- Don’t forget to toast the spices! These aromatic spices can be tossed around in a medium heated pan for 2-3 minutes and then they are ready to be added to the broth. Don’t leave the stove when toasting spices, they can burn easily.
- Get ready- here it is! Throw all the spices, onions, beef bones, fish sauce, and soy sauce into a pot of water and simmer for a few hours. Your house is about to smell AMAZING!
All the fixings really tie in the flavor of pho add a freshness that is unmatched! Here are some of my absolute MUST have additions:
Mung bean sprouts
Red Thai peppers
For the stock:
- 5 lbs beef bones with meat- incorporate different bones
- 10 cups water
- 5 whole star anise
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp anise seed
- 1/2 tsp fennel
- 1/2 tsp coriander seed
- 1 costatum pod (black cardamom)
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
- 4 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced in half
- 2 yellow onions
- 2 TBS brown sugar
- 1 lb rice noodles
- 1 lb flank steak (marinated in 1/4 – 1/2 cup of soy sauce)
- white beech mushrooms
- handful of cilantro, mint, Thai basil, cilantro, and scallions
- bean sprouts
- sliced limes
- sriracha sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice onions and ginger into quarters.
Place bones in large stockpot and add just enough water to cover the bones. Bring to a boil and wait 10 min, or until foam appears at the surface of water.
Strain bones and discard water. Place bones back in pot, and fill with 10 cups of water.
Once the oven is heated, place onions and ginger on a sheet pan, and place in the oven. Roast for 10-20 minutes, or until outer edges are charred (blackened).
Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Place the onions and the ginger into the stockpot.
In a separate small pan, heat pan on medium heat. When pan feels hot, place all the spices in the pan, and swirl around with a rubber spatula for 2 minutes. Toast the spices until they are a deep color, but not burnt. Remove from pan, place spices in a piece of cheesecloth, and tie. Add to the pot.
Add the rest of the ingredients for the stock to the pot. Allow 2-3 hours for simmering.
When broth is ready for serving, heat a new pan over medium heat
Slice meat into small pieces, and place into heated pan. Pour 1/4 cup per Lb of meat into the pan, and cook until meat is done. Remove from the pan.
Prepare all the fixings by laying them out on a platter (if making the pho is more of a buffet style dinner for your family) and grab a ladle for your broth.
Fill bowls with fixings first, then add broth over. Serve with sriracha sauce, and enjoy!