I can’t quite remember the first time I tried beef pho.
It may have been at a street food hangout in Sydney’s CBD. (Before living in Sydney, I don’t think I’d ever tried Vietnamese food, let alone sampled this hearty beef noodle broth.)
Either way, over the years I have developed an obsession (quite a healthy one I think) with this delicious Vietnamese breakfast staple; clear fragrant broth, thin steak or brisket, filling noodles and piles of fresh herbs.
As a Vietnamese food fanatic, living in London was a treat. I could pop to Shoreditch whenever I liked and head down Kingsland Road. Otherwise known as ‘Pho Mile’, it was lined with dozens of Vietnamese hangouts all selling steaming bowls of the pho, as well as some of my other favourites, such as bánh xèo and summer rolls.But my love for pho really reached its pinnacle when I visited Vietnam and learned how to make it at a cookery class in Hoi An – I wrote about my experiences in this blog post. Despite visiting Vietnam more than three years ago, I am slightly ashamed to say that I haven’t ever got round to making pho… that is until earlier this month.
My brother Si and his girlfriend Jess gave me a fantastic cookery book for Christmas – it’s called My Street Food Kitchen and it’s by Jennifer Joyce. To my delight, there was a simple recipe for pho in there… so now, there was no excuse to not give it a go.My mother and father in law, Pauline and Malcolm, as well as my brother in law Sam, his wife Carrie and my niece Everlyn were all coming round for dinner one cold sunday – so I decided to try out this pho recipe. Here’s an overview of the ingredients – I think you’ll agree that they’re not too hard to come by…
Pho ingredients (serves 4-6) – Brisket, ginger, onions, salt, fish sauce, soft brown sugar, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, dried rice noodles, red chillies, beansprouts, coriander, mint, Thai basil, Sriracha and lime.
I got the Thai basil and Sriracha sauce from an Asian supermarket, as we’re blessed to have dozens of them in Leeds. But if you can’t find them, you can still make this dish without them.
It took quite a bit of time to make, but I think if you start preparing the day before then finish things off on the day you want to serve, this pho is pretty darn easy to make.
When I took my first sip of the broth, I felt a feeling of happiness and warmth come over me… not just because I was proud to have made my first pho, but also because I was reminded of that feeling I got when I tasted that one in Ho Chi Minh city back in 2012.
Everyone enjoyed the meal… but one thing I did find was that during the cooking process, a lot of the broth boiled away and there wasn’t quite enough of it left to fill six hearty bowls (and one mini bowl for little Everlyn). Next time, I will probably add another third of water just to ensure there’s plenty to go around.
There was quite a lot of leftover brisket after making this meal – I was quite happy about this because I love the challenge of turning leftovers into culinary masterpieces!
Stay tuned because I’ll be telling you how I used the rest of the brisket and Asian ingredients to make another Vietnamese favourite of mine; Beef Bun Cha….