Here in Wichita another long, hot Kansas summer is quickly approaching. For many people the coming of the summer heat means the end of soup weather, so this post may seem a little untimely. Yet there are some soups that seem custom-made for the heat of summer; the Beef Phở from Little Saigon on N. Broadway is one of these soups.
Like most soups, this Vietnamese delicacy begins with a broth; in this case, a lightly flavored beef broth into which a melange of sweet spices (star anise, cinnamon, black cardamom, and coriander seed), charred onion and ginger have slowly been infused. This exotically scented broth is then ladled over a hearty nest of fine rice noodles, fresh cilantro, shavings of red onion, and thin–almost translucent–slices of beef, which cooks instantly with the heat of the broth. A platter of accompaniments that include crisp and cool bean sprouts, spicy sliced fresh jalapeno, tart lime wedges and herbaceous, anise-y Thai basil is served on the side. These garnishes add a freshness to the soup and are what makes this an ideal meal for a hot languid summer afternoon.
Below is my version of Little Saigon’s Beef Phở. The recipe makes 3-4 very large bowls of soup if served as a main course or 6-10 if served as a soup course. Enjoy!
Time: 4.5 hours.
Serves: 3-4 (Main Course) or 6-10 (soup course)
- 5 lbs of beef soup bones
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped in half
- 1″ piece of ginger, peeled
- 1 bag of pho spices (these are available at most Asian markets)
- 1 lb of fresh or dried thin rice noodles.
- 1 lb of beef, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 1/2 lb of fresh bean sprouts
- 2 jalapenos, sliced or 10 small red and green Thai chillies, sliced
- several large sprigs of Thai basil
- 2 limes, quartered
Making the broth
- Soak beef bones in enough cool, salted water to cover. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes to remove impurities.
- While the bones are soaking, place the onion and ginger into the oven and broil on top rack until onion and ginger start to char a little, turn and char on all sides being careful not to burn the aromatics.
- Drain and rinse the bones.
- Put the drained and rinsed beef bones into a clean stockpot and add just enough cold water to cover (~1 gallon). Add charred onion and ginger to stockpot.
- Heat stockpot on medium high heat until bubbles just break the surface, one bubble every second or two. Adjust heat so that this level of simmering is maintained. Caution: DO NOT boil (boiling will turn your broth cloudy and less clean-tasting.)
- Slowly simmer the bones for 3-4 hours, removing the scum as if forms.
- While the broth is cooking, put beef in freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.
- Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice beef against the grain as thinly as possible. Once sliced put beef in a zip lock bag and add ~1 tablespoon of fish sauce. Place in refrigerator to marinate until needed.
- After about 2 and a half hours, remove fat from top of broth with a turkey-baster.
- Add spice bag then simmer for 1 more hour.
- Remove bones, onion, ginger and spice bag and discard then add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and the juice of 1 lime to the broth
- Allow broth to continue simmering while finishing the soup.
Finishing the soup.
- Cook noodles as per instruction on bag.
- Evenly divide noodles and beef among the bowls, and to each bowl add a small handful of cilantro leaves, and a few shavings of red onion.
- Ladle hot broth into each bowl and allow to stand for a minute to cook beef before serving.
- Serve with large communal platter of bean sprouts, sliced jalapeno peppers (or finely sliced Thai peppers), lime wedges, and Thai basil.
- Season to taste with additional fish sauce, soy sauce, or salt.