My first time having pho was during our September California trip and it was quite an experience. After entirely too much online research (people are really passionate about their pho), I finally picked a place near the San Jose airport based on Foodspotting recommendations.
We pulled into a strip mall and as we approached the doors, we were quickly ushered to a communal tables by a man with a huge smile. The menu took some deciphering, but we ordered our pho and pearl drinks sensing our waitress’ impatience. Then we just sat back and took the whole place in. It was buzzing with other languages, the clinking of dishes from the kitchen and shouts from the man that was seating people.
A few moments later, we were served giant bowls of pho with a large plate of fresh toppings and a selection of chili pastes. Marc made his spicy, so I didn’t try a spoonful because surely, chili would have gotten into my wind pipe and I would have caused a scene. It didn’t matter, though, because I was really into mine. The broth was complex and obviously long-cooked with various ingredients. There was no way to eat it all, but we sure gave it a good try.
This weeknight pho uses a few shortcuts to get this bowl of comfort on your dinner table in minutes. We don’t have great pho places near our home, but this simple recipe makes a nice substitution. The recipe below is a beef version, but feel to leave out the beef and substitute vegetable broth for the beef broth. I’m sure it will be just as delightful.
I wonder if you could help me out with something. So pho is prounounced (fuh), but people like writing/wearing t-shirts with Pho Sho and the original name of this recipe was Faux Pho. Why is that? If it is pronounced fuh, then that makes no sense, right? Is this just another one of life’s mysteries?
Recipe: Weeknight Pho
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 4 to 6
1 T. grapeseed or neutral oil
1/2 of a medium onion, left whole
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 – 3×1 inch piece of peeled ginger
4 C. water
4 C. beef broth (low sodium if possible, sub veg broth if you like)
1 whole star anise
1 – 3 to 4 inch cinnamon stick
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 packages instant ramen (not fried, noodles only)
1 1/2 lb. eye round beef, thinly sliced (optional)
Bean sprouts, basil leaves, thinly sliced serrano chiles and sriracha for garnish
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, cut side down, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally until garlic starts to brown 2-3 minutes.
2. Add water, broth, mushrooms, scallion, star anise and cinnamon stick; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and then simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add salt, if needed. Discard ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick.
3. Add ramen until tender, but still firm to bite. Add beef slices, if using, and simmer until cooked through, about 20 seconds.
4. Fill deep bowls with noodles, beef slices (to get thin slices, freeze partially and use a sharp knife) and mushroomy broth. Garnish with what you like.