A celebration of contrasts in a hearty bowl.
Pho is unarguably the most famous Vietnamese dish in the U.S., but did you know there are many variations of the dish in its home country? Hanoi-style pho is the version I grew up with and feel closest to. Picture this: Pan-seared beef. Poached eggs. Crispy breadsticks dipped in a rich, aromatic broth. The herbs. The tenderness. The crunch. All in one heavenly bowl. This tango of flavors will entice your taste buds like fireworks in your mouth. A bowl of pho can cheer me up on the worst of days, and in this week’s “Sieu in the Kitchen,” I want to share this “recipe for happiness” with you.
INGREDIENTS (servings: 3)
1lb beef neck bones
1.5lb beef brisket
1 yellow onion
2 pieces of ginger (4–5 inch each)
3 cloves of garlic
3 stalks of green onions
3 cinnamon sticks
5 star anises
3 cardamom pods
1tbsp spiced cloves
1tbsp coriander seeds
1 package of dried pho noodles (14oz)
1 egg yolk
4 pre-made crispy breadsticks (can be found at Asian grocery stores)
Also recommended: 1 small mesh bag (can be found at Asian grocery store)
For optional sauce (prepare at least one night in advance):
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 clove of garlic
2 chili peppers
Step 1: Blanch the bones in boiling water for 10–15 minutes. Remove any impurities that float to the top. Rinse through with cold water afterwards.
Step 2: Halve the yellow onion and one piece of ginger. Peel the shallots. Broil them on a baking tray for 8–10 minutes or until well-charred. (With stronger ovens, 4–5 minutes should be good enough, so that they don’t burn.)
Step 3: Toast the cinnamon sticks, star anises, cardamom pods, spiced cloves and coriander seeds in a pan over high heat (with no oil). Shake constantly. Take off the heat when the spices start to smoke, about 3 minutes. Put the spices in the mesh bag and tie it up neatly.
Step 4: Place the blanched bones, charred aromatics and toasted spices into a stock pot. Add in four cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 hours (or more if you desire — the more it simmers, the richer the broth becomes.)
Step 5: Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic and the rest of the ginger. Cut the brisket into thin slices. Marinate with a pinch of salt, 2 tbsp fish sauce, chopped garlic and ginger. Let rest in the fridge until the broth is done cooking. We will let the broth simmer and come back to the kitchen after 5 hours.
Step 6: As we return to the kitchen, cook the pho noodles in a pot of boiling water for 8–10 minutes or until al dente. Strain and rinse through with cold water. Set aside.
Step 7: Bake the breadsticks at 350F for 18–20 minutes. Cut the green onions diagonally so that every slice is thin and long. These will be the toppings for our dish.
Step 8: Season the broth with salt and fish sauce until desired taste.
Step 9: Take the marinated beef out of the fridge and sear it over medium-high heat for 2–3 minutes, until just cooked. You don’t want to overcook beef because it will get really chewy.
Step 10: Assemble our serving bowl! Place pho noodles in the bottom of the bowl. Add beef and green onions. Create a well in the middle to add the egg yolk. Pour in broth and place the crispy breadstick on top.
In Hanoi, we serve pho with a special sauce on the side, called giấm tỏi (“garlic vinegar”). Simply add 2tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp water, 1 clove of chopped garlic and chopped chili peppers into a bowl or a jar. Preserve it in the fridge for at least one night before serving.