Vietnamese Pho

Pho (pronounced ‘Foh’) is the staple dish for Vietnam. Everywhere you go you will see little street vendor stalls selling big bowls of this delicious soup. Filled with everything from tofu, vegetables like pak choi or tender stem broccoli, duck, chicken, beef, fish and shellfish (you see where I’m going with this right?), this soup has a wide range of flavours and will never bore. The basis is usually pretty much the same and built up using onion, ginger, garlic, stock and spices like coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon but the addition of different toppings makes all the difference. This warming soup is light, fragrant and so easy to make that you will soon add this to your (semi) quick, not to mention healthy dinners, repertoire.


INGREDIENTS

FOR THE BASIC BROTH

  • 500ml stock (I used chicken but fish would work as well)
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cm ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, outer layer peeled and bruised by (gently) bashing with the back of a knife
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Little palm sugar as required

FOR THE BOWLS

  • Fried tofu
  • Pak choi
  • Choice of prawns, chicken breast etc
  • 100-150g flat rice noodles

TO GARNISH

  • 1 bird eye chilli, finely sliced or chopped
  • 2 spring onions, light green part finely sliced
  • Handful coriander, leaves picked
  • Handful Asian mint, leaves picked
  • Bean sprouts
  • Extra lime juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200c.
  2. Roast the onion and ginger (peeled but whole) in the oven for approx. 20 minutes or until a little brown. Let cool and thinly slice.
  3. Meanwhile, in a pan dry roast the star anise, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom until fragrant.
  4. Bring stock to a boil and add the ginger, garlic, lemon grass, spices and simmer for about 30 minutes. (If using chicken, cut in cubes or slices and add this in now as well)
  5. Add your choice of filling. When using fried tofu, make sure you cut them in half, as they will soak up the taste of the soup.
  6. Add in the fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar, adjusting as you go by adding in more of each of the above to taste and simmer for 2-5 minutes more.
  7. Bring some water to a boil, add in noodles and simmer for approx. 8-10 minutes. This varies per type of noodle so make sure you read the instructions on the packaging. Drain the noodles and add to a bowl.
  8. Pour the broth over the noodles and garnish as you like.

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