Pho

This was my first attempt at making pho. I used a recipe from Nina Simonds’s Asian Noodles book. I didn’t have everything handy and had to make a few changes: garlic for the shallots (next time I’ll use both); anise for star anise; cinnamon for cinnamon sticks. The anise and cinnamon just didn’t work, because they floated to the top and basically got skimmed off with the fat. Anyway, I’ve got the right supplies for my next attempt. the pho came out pretty well for a first try, especially once it was well-garnished. if it had one weakness, it was the broth — a bit thin and not quite as tasty as good pho. So next time, I’ll work on the broth a bit.



Ingredients
Beef Stock
3.75 lbs of beef shinbones or oxtails, preferably with meat and marrow
16 c water
4 shallots, thinly sliced
6 slices fresh ginger, smashed
4 stars anise
2 cinnamon sticks
Soup
1/4 c fish sauce
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
flat rice stick noodles, cooked, rinsed, and drained
1/2 pound boneless beef sirloin, trimmed and sliced thin
Garnishes
lime wedges
bean sprouts
basil leaves
cilantro leaves
sliced chili pepper (fresh or pickled)
pickled garlic slices
sriracha or other hot pepper sauce
hoisin sauce

Directions
combine the beef stock ingredients and bring to a boil. turn to low and simmer, uncovered, for 90 minutes, skimming fat from the surface occasionally. remove the bones and other seasonings and strain the broth. add the fish sauce and pepper keep warm over low heat. bring the broth to a boil, add the meat, and cook for 1-2 minutes. put the noodles in bowls, pour over the broth, and serve with the garnishes.
To reheat later: the broth can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen and thawed. cook noodles, bring the broth to a boil, add the meat to the broth, and pour the broth over the noodles. serve with the usual garnishes.
Verdict
As I said, it was pretty good, but not great, pho. The broth was a little weak, though with some hoisin, sriracha, lime, and so on, not too noticeable. One obvious change, of course, is that my next broth will properly use star anise and cinnamon sticks, as well as shallots. But I think it might also be worth simmering the broth longer to develop more flavor.