PHO

My family is constantly in search of the best Pho.  If you are not familiar with this, it is a Vietnamese soup containing a seasoned broth, rice noodles, and is usually served with beef or chicken (but can also be made vegetarian).  I'm not sure where we first tried it, but it has become a favorite and a never ending quest to find the best.  Of course we were going to have to attempt to make this from scratch at home!  We researched some recipes and then came up with an easy crockpot recipe:

O.K, start by gathering your ingredients:

Fresh ginger (two chunks) | 3 whole cloves | 3 whole star anise | 2 T Olive (vegetable) oil | 1 small yellow onion, minced | 3 garlic cloves, minced | 6 cups of beef broth | 3 T Soy Sauce | 3 T Hoisin Sauce | 2 T miso paste dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water | 1/2 pound New York Strip Steak | 8 ounces dried rice noodles | 1 T fresh lime juice | 1 cup cilantro (for garnish) | 1.2 cup bean sprouts (for garnish) | 2 Scallions (sliced thinly for garnish) | Lime wedges to serve with the dish

To make this:

1. Put the anise, chunks of ginger, and cloves in a small square of cheesecloth. Use a small piece of twine to tie the cheesecloth. Now you have a spice packet for your broth.

Step 2: Heat your oil over medium-high in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute until slightly translucent (4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook a minute longer. Transfer this mixture into your crockpot.

Saute onion until slightly translucent.

Saute onion until slightly translucent.

Added garlic.  I bet you can smell this, can't you?

Added garlic.  I bet you can smell this, can't you?

Here I have transferred the onion, garlic, and spice packet into the crockpot.

Here I have transferred the onion, garlic, and spice packet into the crockpot.

Step 3:  Add the beef broth, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and miso paste (which had been dissolved into 1/4 cup hot water). Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Added the soy and hoisin sauce.

Added the soy and hoisin sauce.

I used this miso paste.

I used this miso paste.

Dissolve the miso paste in 1/4 cup hot water.

Dissolve the miso paste in 1/4 cup hot water.

Add the broth and the miso mixture to the crockpot and cook for 5-6 hours.

Add the broth and the miso mixture to the crockpot and cook for 5-6 hours.

Step 4: Add the rice noodles and cook until tender (15-30 minutes or desired tenderness is reached). Add the lime juice.

These are the noodles we used.  They cooked in about 15 minutes.

These are the noodles we used.  They cooked in about 15 minutes.

pho-12.jpg

Step 5: About 30 minutes before you wish to serve your soup, put your steak in the freezer (yup, that's right, the freezer). You want your steak nice and firm.  After about 20 minutes take out your steak and use a sharp serrated knife to cut the steak into paper thin slices. You want the steak as thin as possible so that when you add it to the hot broth, it cooks up quickly. Please be sure that broth is super hot when you add the steak.  (My mothering instincts are forcing me to mention the obvious risks of ingesting meat that is undercooked!  Remember THIN STEAK and HOT BROTH are the key.)

Here is a very blurry shot of the steak as it first went into the broth.

Here is a very blurry shot of the steak as it first went into the broth.

Step 6: Once the steak is browned, ladle into serving bowls. Garnish your bowls with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallion slices and serve with lime wedges.

We served this with the lime wedge and bean sprouts on the side.

In our family's 1-10 rating scale system (10 being the best) this scored a 9.  The taste was fantastic. The broth was a little thicker than what we find at a restaurant so I may add more broth next time.  Also, I added some of this:

I omitted it from this recipe.  I think it contributed to the texture being a little thicker than desired. If you decide to add this, it may need extra broth.

All in all, it was a hit.  Pretty easy to make, pretty healthy and loved by everyone....nothing short of a miracle.

Hope this gave you some kitchen inspiration!

Warmly,

Pam