Easy and incredible Vietnamese Beef Pho

This is a quick version of this wonderful Asian dish. Don’t be intimidated; you will not be sorry.

Wow, Wow. Wow!

Vietnamese Beef Pho

I started out learning to cook from a close friend of mine. “No more than five ingredients,” I would tell her…anything more than that, and I felt I was getting lost. She came over tonight for dinner, making fun of my past five-ingredient limit as I was Vietnamese Beef PHO. While the recipe seemed complicated, I found that it wasn’t as tough as I imagined, and with a bit of planning, it could make for a fairly simple dinner.

What a radical changeup from my norm! I can’t wait to make it again. The flavors of cilantro, lime, beef, onion and scallions sang through for an excellent, hearty winter meal that was fresh and bright.

Vietnamese PHO has its foundation in the broth. It is supposed to be a long-simmered affair: beef and/or chicken bones with aromatics like ginger and onions that make the broth rich and savory. Thankfully, America’s Test Kitchen has come up with a few shortcuts that allowed me to do this easily and in stages that take just an hour or so.  I think I stumbled across it online, or it might have been on TV, but regardless, looked and tasted fantastic. I’ve wanted to dig further into fresh Asian cuisine for a long time, and this seemed to be a perfect fit.

Vietnamese Beef Pho Ingredients

Starting with 1 pound of ground beef, I made 1-inch chunk beef balls and placed them in a Dutch oven I added water, covering the meat by 1 inch and brought the mixture to boil over high heat for about 2 minutes.
  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 onions, quartered

Beef Pho Broth

To develop the broth and the depth of flavor, I drained the beef in a colander and put it back in the pot with 6 onion quarters, added 12 cups of water, 12 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon and then 2 additional cups of water. I then seasoned the broth and meat with the fish sauce, ginger, cinnamon stick, sugar, star anise, cloves, 2 teaspoons salt, and peppercorns. Once everything was combined I brought to a boil over high heat and reduced to a simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes I poured the broth into the colander, which was set in a large pot to capture all of the liquid. The solids were then discarded, and I added water as needed to equal 11 cups. I returned the broth to the pot and seasoned with extra sugar and salt (the broth is very strong at this point and tasted a bit over seasoned, but delicious however—this is recommended). I kept it covered and warm over low heat.
  • 12 cups low-sodium beef broth (you can use Better than Bouillon)
  • 2 cups of water
  • ¼ cup fish sauce, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 (4-inch) piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for seasoning
  • 6 star anise pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Onion and Beef Pho Broth
Vietnamese Beef Pho with Star Anise and Cinnamon

While the broth simmered, I placed a strip steak on a large plate and froze it until very firm—35 to 45 minutes. Once firm, I was able to cut against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices. I returned the steak to a plate and refrigerated until needed.
  • 1 boneless strip steak (1 pound), slivered

Shaving Steak for Beef Pho

About 20 minutes before dinner time, I boiled the broth and soaked the noodles in warm water for 15 minutes.  After, I drained them  in a colander and dropped the rice noodles into boiling water for 60-90 seconds.
I then drained the pot,  placed the rice noodles in the individual bowls and shingled the thin steak over the top.
The broth was then ladled over the rice noodles and the accouterments were added – thinly sliced onion, cilantro, scallions, bean sprouts, basil sprigs, lime wedges.
I served the dish immediately with Hoisin Sauce, Sriracha, and extra fish sauce for the guests to dress.
  • 14-16 ounces rice noodles
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 scallions, sliced thin (optional)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Sprigs fresh Thai or Italian basil
  • Lime wedges
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Sriracha Sauce


Vietnamese Beef Pho Bowl Preparation

Plating Vietnamese Beef Pho and cooking the Beef

Finished Vietnamese Beef Pho

What I loved about this whole dish, is I could make the broth and complete all the prep in the morning, and be a rock star in about 15 minutes with the last steps of preparing the noodles and plating.

Original recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, now tested out in mine!