Ah Phở , who can turn down a delicious bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup?
And today you can bring the humble elegance of Vietnamese Phở to your own dining table (or on a tray on your lap, because Netflix) with this 5 Minute, not-quite authentic recipe.
OK so 5 minutes may be a bit of a push here but “Thirteen Minute Phở” didn’t have quite the same ring to it. However, in essence, it only takes five minutes to put this steaming bowl of awesomeness together with a few more minutes of passive cooking time (hellooooooo angry birds, anyone still play that?)
It’s like this:
5 Minutes: to cut an onion, ginger and mince a few cloves of garlic. Throw this into a pot with (homemade, of course!) beef stock. Place noodles in boiling water. Done!
Did that even take 5 minutes?
5 – 10 minutes: standing around letting things simmer and cook whilst attempting to beat your angry birds high score (or doing errands like an adult, whatever)
Yep, it’s that quick and easy. Just throw everything together in bowls and get to the eating!
If you like to travel the world ✈️ there will inevitably come a time when, sitting at a table of a local restaurant, you will have to learn the dining etiquette and protocols of the locals.
This has happened to the Paramedic and I more times than we can remember, usually helped by a friendly, fellow diner. An example would be a during a trip to Singapore where we had lunch at an out of the way, no-English-menu provided Indian restaurant.
Our plates were large sheets of banana leaf and the mysterious menu items we had ordered took the form of great dollops of various dips, sauces, curries and roti-like breads (we usually order enough food to feed a large family)
Watching our fellow diners, and helped with a game of food-eating charades and beaming smiles, we soon discovered the meal had to be eaten by hand (hence why there was no cutlery on offer). Not only this but everything had its own order in which it was to be eaten. It was quite a system. By the end of the meal we were pros.
Ah, good times
But anyway, back to Phở…
Although these “learning to eat” experiences come and go, eating (or is it drinking?) soup was never one I thought I would have to learn no matter what country I was in. I mean, it’s soup.
And yet, on a recent trip to Vietnam I found I had been eating Phở (and all other noodle soup) the wrong way, who knew?
Once upon a time I considered my method of eating Phở to be the only possible way to do so; Chopsticks in one hand, soup spoon in the other. I would pull out the noodles, meat, bean sprouts, etc with the chopsticks. This would be alternated with spoonfuls of soup from the spoon.
It may have looked a little brash (food shovelled in by both hands) but what it lacked in finesse it certainly gained in efficiency.
And then my Pho-eating life changed. The Paramedic and I were in Hanoi, Vietnam and embarked on a food tour. We stopped off at Pho Gia Truyen (if you find yourself in Hanoi, Vietname, you must go here. MUST!) and we were served the legendary Beef Pho.
We started out eating Pho just as we always had done. But the guide stopped us and, taking chopsticks and spoon away from us, demonstrated the “correct” way of eating Pho.
And it goes a little something like this: With chopsticks, pick out a small amount of noodles, meat, bean sprouts etc. Place this food on the soup spoon. Now, slowly dip the spoon into the soup until it fills up. Shovel the spoonful of soup liquid and noodles into mouth.
Then again, in the comfort of your own house there is no real need to watch how you eat Phở. You can use the two handed, chopstick + spoon method or try and keep authentic. Or, if you prefer, you can slurp straight from the bowl (→judgement free zone←)
So if you’re feeling like a warming bowl of comfort food that is quick to throw together and a little outside of the “usual comfort” food box, have yourself some Vietnamese Phở and slurp away.
5 Minute Phở (A Cheater’s Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
Prep Time: 5 mins || Cook Time: 10 = 15 mins
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- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 Large onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minces
- 60g fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
- 6 star anise, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
- 400g dried, flat rice noodles
- 500g beef fillet (or sizzle steaks), sliced into small thin strips
- 8 cups of beef stock (homemade is, of course, preferred)
- 1 lightly packed cup cilantro
- 3/4 lightly packed cup of mint
- 1 1/2 cups of bean sprouts
- 2 limes
- soy sauce, chilli sauce and fresh chillies, chopped, to serve (optional)
- In a large saucepan or stockpot over medium high heat, cook the onions until soft. Add the ginger, garlic and star anise and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the stock (and fish sauce if using). Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
- Share the cooked noodles among bowls along with the (uncooked) beef, cilantro and mint. Strain the stock and pour into the bows until almost full. Allow to sit for five minutes to allow the beef to cook. Tope with bean sprouts, chilli and a wedge of lime.