We've had this recipe from The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper earmarked for a while. Given the dreary weather we've been getting all along the East Coast, we thought a bowl of noodles and tender beef in a fragrant broth sounded like just what we needed!
The recipe is fairly straight forward: cooked noodles and thinly sliced raw beef go into a bowl, and then the boiling broth gets spooned over top. Garnish with beansprouts, lime wedges, and Thai basil, and you've got Vietnamese-style comfort food.
The recipe starts off having you toast the aromatics and spices under the broiler for a few minutes. This brings out their flavors and fills the house with the warm smells of star anise and ginger.
These went right into a basic chicken stock along with some sugar and fish sauce and simmered for about 20 minutes. At first it seemed that the rich aromas weren't translating into flavor, but after the full 20 minutes, the stock had reduced slightly and the flavors from the spices had infused the liquid. We ended up adding a few teaspoons of salt at the end to bring everything together.
Before slicing the steak, the recipe instructions had us freeze it until it was stiff but still pliable. This made it much easier to get those razor thin slice of meat. A sharp knife helped too!
Pouring the broth over the raw meat in order to cook it (see left) was a little scary just because we're so accustomed to cooking meat before adding it to our serving dish. We admit that this was entirely psychological since we usually order our steak medium-rare! It turns out that we had even less reason to fear since it was clear that the hot broth cooked the meat instantly.
The finished pho was delicious. The meat was so tender that it practically melted in our mouths. With the smooth noodles and rich broth, the soup was fully satisfying. We thought the broth was a bit on the sweet side, so next time we might cut back on the sugar or make a point of adding more lime juice.
Prep work and cook time were minimal--we had dinner on the table in about a half an hour. The ingredients were not hard to find and the instructions made them easy to work with. The only ingredient we didn't find at our local grocery store were the flat rice noodles. They did have vermicelli rice noodles, so we substituted those.
We'll definitely be making this recipe again!
• Buy a copy of The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper for $23.10 on Amazon.com.
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(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)