For those of you who haven’t heard of this before, Pho (pronounced “Fuh”) is a light Vietnamese noodle soup which can be made with seafood, chicken or pork.
While I was working in the city this was my ultimate hangover cure, its spicy without being heavy and full of healthy, fresh ingredients, and as I’d been feeling poorly the other day I decided to make a batch myself for the first time. It was so good that I made a chicken one the next day and I’m actually planning to make it again for my boyfriend who’s annoyed he didn’t get to try any!
The first time I made Pho I added my spices straight to my broth, which meant that once it was cooked I had to pour it through a sieve so that nobody ended up with chunks of star anise in their bowl! There’s nothing wrong with doing this, and if you’re unable to get your hands on any muslin then it’ll do just fine, but I find it quicker to make a spice bag and then just scoop it out before serving.
Makes 4 big bowl fulls
20-25 king prawns, peeled and deveined
400g rice noodles
2 handfuls of bean sprouts (optional)
1 large carrot, peeled into ribbons
1 handful of spinach
2 red chillis, sliced
1 spring onions, sliced
2 handfuls or fresh coriander
2 handfuls fresh mint
1 lime cut into 4
For the broth:
1.5 litres fish, chicken or vegetable stock (you can use 2 stock cubes in boiling water)
1 lime, juiced
1 medium brown onion
1 inch by 4 inch piece of fresh ginger
2 hot green chillies, finely chopped (optional)
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
salt to taste
For the spice bag:
2 star anise
1 tbsp cardamom pods
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 lemongrass stem
Firstly, we’re going to add all of our spice bag ingredients to a non stick saucepan over a low to medium heat and toast them for 2-3 minutes or until they start to release a lovely fragrance.
Then add them to a bowl and gently crush them with a spoon, or a pestle and mortar if you have one.
You’ll need to make the spice bag next, if you don’t have a piece of muslin or cotton then just skip this step.
Cut a piece of muslin to about 20 x 20 cm, place your crushed spices into the centre, gather the edges and twist until you get a little bundle. Use a piece of string to tie the bag together tightly and place the bag to one side.
Cut the top off of your onion, peel it and slice it in half, leaving the roots intact. The root will hold the onion together while cooking and make it easier to scoop out in one go.
Turn one of the rings of your gas stove onto a high heat, take a pair of metal tongs and the onion over the naked flame one half at a time until it begins to char. Place in a bowl to one side. Don’t worry if it smokes a little, this will give your Pho a lovely smokey flavour.
Follow the above steps with your ginger too then place in the same bowl as the onion.
Place a large stock pot or saucepan over a medium heat and fry your minced garlic cloves and diced green chillies in a little groundnut or olive oil, then add your charred ginger and onion.
Pour your stock, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and white wine vinegar into the pot along with your spice bag.
Bring to the boil then cover and reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
When 20 minutes has passed, take a spoonful of your broth and taste it. Add salt or more fish sauce until it tastes how you’d like it to.
If you didn’t use a spice bag now is the time to pour your broth through a sieve into a clean saucepan.
Scoop out your onions, ginger and spice bag before adding your prawns, noodles, carrots, spinach and beanshoots, then bring the broth to the boil again to cook everything for 3 minutes.
Turn off the heat and use tongs to place noodles, prawns etc. into 4 bowls. Then spoon over as much broth as you like, and garnish with your choice of fresh coriander, mint, limes, spring onions and chilli.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I did, and if you’re unsure of anything or would like to send me pictures of your Pho you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @_YumLily!