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Recipe: how to make Vietnamese beef pho


Pho – pronounced ‘fuh’, not ‘foe’ – may be Vietnam’s national dish (and the favoured lunch of many a ravenous office worker), but its origins lie over 6,000 miles away in France. Many believe the name was adapted from the French dish ‘pot-au-feu’, a slow-cooked beef and vegetable stew, during French colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Quick to prepare (just remember to prep the stock a day in advance) and brimming with flavour, pho is a dish that can easily be recreated at home. Or, of course, you could book flights to Hanoi and taste your way around the city’s best pho stalls instead…

Preparation time: 1 hour 45 minutes, plus overnight refrigeration
Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 1kg beef short ribs
  • 5cm fresh ginger, peeled, sliced and pounded
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 whole star anise, pounded
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, pounded
  • 400g dried rice stick noodles 
  • 350g thinly sliced beef fillet
  • 3 tbsps fish sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
  • 125g beansprouts, trimmed
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • A handful each of fresh Thai basil, Vietnamese mint and coriander, chopped
  • 6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

Step 1: Place the beef ribs in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes then drain and wash the ribs. Return them to the pan and add 2 litres more cold water along with the ginger, onion, garlic, star anise and cinnamon. Return to the boil and simmer gently for 1½ hours, or until the meat is tender.

Step 2: Carefully remove the ribs from the stock and set them aside to cool. Thinly shred the meat, discarding the bones. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve and set aside to cool. Refrigerate both the meat and the stock overnight.

Step 3: The next day, soak the noodles in a bowlful of hot water for 20-30 minutes, until softened. Drain well, shake dry and divide the noodles between four large bowls. 

Step 4: Meanwhile, skim and discard the layer of fat from the cold stock and return the pan to a medium heat until just boiling. Stir in the shredded meat, beef fillet, fish sauce, salt, sugar and lime juice. Place the beef fillet on the noodles, spoon over the stock and top with the beansprouts.

Step 5: Serve the bowls of pho with a plate of the garnishes in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves.

Queztal Malbec 2014, Marks and Spencer

Queztal Malbec 2014, £8.50, Marks and Spencer, marksandspencer.com
Beef and malbec are a match made in heaven. Even though a Mexican malbec seems odd, this has no oak so it’s all about the blackcurrant juiciness to temper the chilli heat and hone in on the delicious spice.

From Oodles Of Noodles by Louise Pickford (£16.99, Ryland Peters & Small, waterstones.com), out now

Words: Jenny Tregoning  
Photography: Ian Wallace

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