I know those words aren’t actually homonyms, but I couldn’t resist. As you probably figured out from the title, one day I decided to make pho, but I’ve never had anything that I’ve considered “real” pho, so I’m making one up based on recipes from the interwebs. I guess you could call this one an unidentifiable pho, aka a UPho (get it? UFO? Haaaa.).
My understanding is that the broth is the heart of a traditional pho. It is flavored with unique spices, such as star anise, clove, lemongrass, and charred ginger, but I didn’t want to spring for anything quite that ambitious/time consuming yet. Instead, I stuck with the Thai Stock that I got from Wegmans for the Pad Thai attempt from a while back. The stock itself is very nicely flavored (with real foods) that would be expensive to buy in order to make my own stock.
- Mixed 1 box of stock with an equal amount of water.
- Boiled the liquid with one onion, quartered, 2 garlic cloves, minced, grated fresh ginger, and a small sprinkle of cinnamon. I also added a splash of fish sauce and hoisin sauce, but that’s optional.
- Let it keep boiling while I prepped the rest of the ingredients, then removed most of the onion because no one wants to bite into that. **Update: I did not remove the onions because they separated into layers and got all soft and sweet after about 30 minutes of boiling, so I recommend doing that instead.
The next most important ingredient are the noodles. I got flat rice noodles from the Asian aisle, right next to the noodles I bought for the Pad Thai. Cook these separately and cool them quickly (by pouring cold water over them in a strainer) to prevent them from over cooking before the rest of the ingredients are ready.
**Update: I just found out that there’s a such thing as brown rice noodles, but I’ve never seen them. If you find them, buy all of them and send them to me!!!
The toppings are variable according to your taste. I chose:
- Bok Choy, roughly sliced and rinsed thoroughly (it traps lots of dirt while growing)
- Beef, sliced veeeeeeery thin against the grain
- **Update: I now marinate the steak in a bit of soy sauce for about 5 minutes before adding it to the broth
- Mushrooms, also sliced very thin
- Jalapeno, seeded and sliced even more thinly
- Bean sprouts
- Scallions, sliced
- Basil, torn
I let the bok choy cook for a few minutes while the stock was still very hot. I turned off the heat and added the beef. It’ll cook through very quickly in the hot broth, just like at the Melting Pot (yum!).
Put the noodles in a deep bowl and ladle the soup on top. Top with the rest of the ingredients as you wish. Season as desired with salt, pepper, cayenne, soy sauce, sriracha, etc. You can even let everyone top their own so they get exactly what they want!
- 1 qt water
- 1 qt Thai stock
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp ginger, grated
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp each fish sauce and hoisin sauce
- 8 oz rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
- 2 cups bok choy, roughly sliced and rinsed thoroughly
- 1/2 lb beef, sliced very thin against the grain and marinated in soy sauce
- 2 oz mushrooms, sliced very thin
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced very thin
- 2 oz bean sprouts
- Scallions, sliced
- Basil, torn
- Mix water, stock, onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, fish sauce, and hoisin sauce and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Reduce broth to a simmer and add bok choy. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes.
- Off the heat, add the beef and mushrooms.
- Place rice noodles in bowls and ladel broth on top. Top with remaining ingredients.