Pho, beef noodle soup, bone broth or whatever you want to call it, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. A Vietnamese treasure that’s light, comforting and extremely healthy. Those that know, know…
Wait what is it?
Basically, Pho (pronounced PHUH) is a Vietnamese soup with rice noodles, beef and beef stock that normally simmers anywhere from 10-24 hours. It can be served with all sorts of accompaniments like fresh basil, bean sprouts, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, fresh chili and onions. In this recipe it’s ready in 3 hours with the instant pot.
Pho is a super comforting, stress-relieving hot soup. It’s exactly what I want to eat on a cold and rainy day.
- fresh chili
- hoisin sauce
- fresh basil
- bean sprouts
- coriander (eww gross)
- sriracha sauce
- fish sauce
- fresh lemon or lime wedges
- thinly sliced onions
When I’m cooking at home it’s nice to find a recipe that’s delicious but also going to make me feel great afterwards. Pho is exactly that. The broth contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen — all of which may promote joint health. It also contains ginger which can help to reduce inflammation.
A Bit About Bones
Cooking with bones is an old-school method that’s unfortunately less popular at home nowadays due to the popularity of fast-food. Almost everything in a fast-food restaurant is boneless and therefore we don’t get enough bones in our diet.
Marrow bones are loaded with vitamin A, vitamin K2, minerals like zinc, iron, boron, manganese and selenium, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and fish bones contain iodine, which is essential for healthy thyroid function and metabolism.
Basically, bones are healthy and definitely something we are lacking in our modern diet. Pho is the answer!
I’m a passionate bone advocate for many reasons. When you cook with bones you make use of the whole animal, make something healthy and most importantly create a flavour that you cannot get anywhere else.
Normally a Pho or bone broth like this can take anywhere from 10-24 hours to properly extract all the lovely flavour and health benefits out of the bones. BUT with this magical little tool, you cut the time down to just 2 hours of cooking with the same (if not better) flavour!
If the bone broth is allowed to cool in the instant pot (about 30 minutes extra) then it will have even more flavour. This is because a lot of flavour is actually lost when you simmer a stock without a lid as it is carried with the steam into the air. Bonus flavour!
The great thing about the instant pot is that it doesn’t need your constant attention like a normal stockpot on the stove where you need to constantly monitor the temperature. I put the instant pot on, set the timer for two hours and flip on the T.V.
- Make sure the broth is boiling hot before you serve so when you add the rest of ingredients it stays hot
- Have the meat come to room temperature so it cooks nicely and the broth stays hot
- Salt the water heavily for the rice noodles so they are seasoned nicely
- You can freeze the meat slightly so it’s easier to slice thinly
I Don’t Have an Instant Pot
No worries, but you’ll have to wait like many people did before the era of fancy pressure cookers.
The method is the same except instead of cooking for 2 hours on high pressure you will need to simmer the broth for 10-12 hours. Make sure the bones are completely covered with water. Check the stock now and then to make sure the water doesn’t evaporate too much.
- Instant pot
- Big bowls for eating the Pho
For the Broth
- 1 kg beef bones marrow or neck bones or beef shank
- 2 small white onions skin on
- 1 head garlic sliced in half, skin on
- 1 piece ginger 1 piece roughly the size of your thumb, sliced in half
- 1 tsp coriander seed
- 3 piece clove
- 2 piece bay leaf
- 1 piece star anise
- 1 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fish sauce or worcestershire sauce
- 800 ml cold water
For the rest
- ½ pack rice noodles
- 200 g sirloin steak ½ lb
- 1 bunch fresh thai basil
- 1 whole chili sliced (optional)
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar for the chili
- Brulée the ginger by burning it on a gas burner or torch until it's slightly blackened on the outside. If you don't have access to fire you can sear it quickly on high heat in a pan.
- Add all the ingredients with the water to the instant pot. Set on saute function (no lid) for 30 minutes and wait for it to boil.
- Once the water has come to a boil, skim off the scum and excess fat with a ladle and discard.
- Double check that the water level is at max level indicator on the inside of the instant pot, not higher or lower. Add more water or remove more water to make sure it's at the correct level.Put the lid on and set the timer for 2 hours @ high pressure.
- Wrap the steak in plastic wrap and freeze for approx. 30 minutes to make it easier to slice.
- After about 30 minutes, remove the meat from the freezer and slice thinly with a sharp knife. Refrigerate the sliced meat.
- When the instant pot timer goes off, turn off the machine and let it cool for 30 minutes. Also remove the sliced meat from the fridge to temper.
- Gather all the ingredients on a nice plate. Slice some fresh chili and add the tbsp of rice wine vinegar and place in a small bowl. Wash the basil and bean sprouts if necessary.
- Once the instant pot has cooled, carefully release the remaining pressure with the valve. Skim off the fat at the top with a ladle.
- Strain the beef stock through a fine mesh strainer into another pot. Check the seasoning on the broth – add more salt if desired. Bring to a boil and keep warm. Save any cooked meat and bone marrow in a separate bowl. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in warm water when finished.
- To finish add the cooked rice noodles, a sprig or two of basil, the cooked beef and marrow and the raw meat into the serving bowls.
- Ladle over the hot broth and enjoy right away!
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