29, Dec 2009
Pho in a Pressure Cooker

The first project for my new chanukkah pressure cooker: pho. I started with this recipe with a few changes. The end result was pretty good. The flavor overall could have been a little more intense, but the balance of beef and spices was about right (in the past I’ve made broths that were too star anisey). Of course, with a bit of fish sauce, lime, hoisin, and chili sauce, it was great. Aside from lacking a little intensity, it was probably the best pho broth I’ve made yet. Next time I will probably increase the amount of bones I use and not bother with the shank meat — it fell apart in the broth and was hard to retrieve to put into the bowls, and was not that tasty besides.

1 lb beef bones
1.5 lb beef shank bones (mostly bone with a little meat)
1 lb beef shank meat, sliced as for osso bucco with bone in the center
1 large yellow onion, quartered, skin still on
1 2″ piece of fresh ginger
3 star anise pods
3 whole cloves
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
3 quarts water
1/4 c fish sauce
To serve
1/2 lb beef sirloin
medium-wide dried rice stick noodles
cilantro, basil, thai basil, and/or mint
lime wedges
thin slices of white onion, halved
mung bean sprouts (I personally don’t add these)
hoisin sauce
sriracha or other chile sauce

Making the broth
Put all the beef bones in the pressure cooker and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5-10 minutes. Remove, rinse the bones thoroughly, and clean out the pressure cooker. While waiting for the bones to boil, toast the spices in a hot skillet for a few minutes. Remove and toast the onion and ginger, browning on all sides.
Put all broth ingredients except fish sauce in the pressure cooker. Bring to a boil on high heat and seal the pressure cooker. Bring the cooker up to 8 lbs psi (first red ring on Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers) and lower the heat. Cook for 45 minutes, monitoring the heat to maintain a constant pressure. Strain everything from the broth. At this point either skim the fat or refrigerate the broth overnight and remove the solid lump of fat from the top the next day. Add the fish sauce to taste.
To serve
Cut the sirloin very thin, across the grain; I like to freeze it for 45 minutes or so to make it easier to slice. Boil the rice noodles until tender, about six minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. In each serving bowl, place noodles, sirloin, and sliced onions. Bring the broth to a rolling boil in a saucepan and add enough to each bowl to cover the noodles, meat, and onions. Serve with limes, herbs, and sauces.