Normally the words, "beef flavor paste" aren't something we'd usually be into, but when it comes to making fast Pho, we're all over it! It's an easy way to get a tasty dish without the boiling of bones and has become a quick pantry staple.
This jar full of spices might look a little scary, but in reality it's just a meat flavored bullion. In this case beef, though they're available in almost every protein you can imagine at your local ethnic foods store (we get ours from the local Chinatown Market).
The idea is simple, soak/cook your rice noodles in a large pot and when almost done add the paste (amount differs by how many people you plan to feed) and boiling water, plus your meat. From there it's like any other Pho, just add in whatever veggies or herbs you want to flavor things up and you're all set.
We've found it's a great way to entertain friends and family, even in large quantities (you just need a bigger pot) with very little effort. Chances are if you're able to find the paste, then you have a market near you that also carries all the additional herbs and such which makes for not only a quick, but inexpensive meal as well. This bottle retails in our area for $1.99 and makes 22, 3 cup servings of broth.
Although boiling down bone is a more traditional way to create a dish of this nature, sometimes there just isn't time and this is a great pantry favorite to stock up on if you're willing to give it a shot.
• Recipe: Vegetarian Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
• Recipe Review: Vietnamese Rice Noodle Pho
• Cooking Basics: How to Cook Rice Noodles
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(Image: Sarah Rae Trover)