Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crockpot Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

Pho (pronounced fuh) is a Vietnamese Noodle Soup. The first time I had Pho was a few years ago when a couple of co-workers of mine suggested we have it for lunch. It never really appealed to me before, but I was always up for trying something new. So I went along and I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated. Then my co-workers recommended I try the beef brisket Pho. They showed me which condiments to use and how to eat it and I was hooked. It was the perfect meal for that chilly day and it totally hit the spot.

I don't have Pho often because soup, as per hubby, isn't filling for him. But Pho restaurants are popping up all over the area with clever names like Good Pho You and Pho King (yeah, I got a laugh outta that one too). I once attempted to make Pho a few years ago. The original recipe required me to leave the broth to boil over low heat overnight. But fearing that I may burn the house down, I decided to slow cook it in the Crock Pot instead. It came out okay, but not pho-bulous (lol). So I never tried to make it again because I figured I should leave pho-making to the experts. Then I recently came across this Crock Pot Pho recipe from Steamy Kitchen that inspired me to make it again. And plus, I've been craving it for a while.

The Crock Pot Pho came out pretty well. However, it was hard to season the broth after cooking because it was really too hot to taste. So I had to play with the fish sauce and guess the taste. Overall, the dish was okay. I even got my daughter to eat it (minus the raw meat in it, of course).

4 lbs. beef bones
1/2 onion
4 inch section of ginger, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1 tsp. fennel
3 whole star anise
3 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
9 cups water
2 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce, or to taste
1 tsp. sugar

16 oz dried noodles, cooked according to package directions
1/2 lb. flank, london broil, sirloin or eye of round steak, sliced as thinly as possible
lime wedges
cilantro, Thai basil, mint
2 hand fulls of bean sprouts
hoisin sauce
Sriracha chili sauce

1) Bring a large stock pot with water to boil over high heat. When it comes to a rolling boil, add beef bones and boil vigorously for 10 minutes.

2) In the meantime, heat a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add spices and toast until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Dump the spices into the crock pot. Return frying pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add ginger slices and half of an onion. Cook until the ginger is browned on both sides and the onion half is nicely browned and softened. Add ginger and onion to the crock pot.

3) When the bones have pre-boiled, discard the bones and rinse briefly to clean. Add the bones to the crock pot and fill with water to just 1 1/2 inch below the surface of the bones. Add the fish sauce and sugar. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Taste and season with more fish sauce if needed. Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the solids.

4) To assemble the bowls, distribute noodles and thin steak among 4 bowls. Ladle hot pho broth in the bowls (the hot broth will cook the thin steak). Serve with lime wedges, cilantro/Thai basil/mint, and bean sprouts. Season with hoisin sauce and Sriracha chili sauce to taste.

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