Vietnamese beef noodle pho is an easy soup to fall in love with. Those chewy noodles, that savory broth, the tender slices of beef — all those crunchy, spicy, herby garnishes we get to toss on top. On a cold evening, after a rough day at work, when we’re sick, on a lazy weekend afternoon — a bowl of piping hot pho is pretty much always a good idea.
Real Pho vs. “Quick” Pho
As much as we love those chewy rice noodles and tender bites of meat, Vietnamese pho is really all about the broth. True pho broth is a long-simmered affair, combining chicken or beef bones (or both!) with aromatics like onions and ginger to make a deeply rich, deeply savory broth. Making a great broth is a process that takes hours — sometimes days
While this kind of slow-cooked pho is absolutely peerless, we can make a much quicker version using store-bought beef stock. This “quick” pho doesn’t have quite the same depth or home-cooked flavor, but when a pho craving hits on a random weeknight and we just need a bowl of tasty noodles, it gets the job done.
We can also get close to the flavors of real pho broth by taking just a little time to infuse the broth with some aromatics. Simmered for 30 minutes with some onions, ginger, whole spices, soy sauce, and a dash of fish sauce — we can make a simple pho broth that tastes pretty darn good. I also like to add carrots to my broth — it’s not traditional, but I like the sweetness and body they add.
The Best Beef for Pho
Top choices for beef pho are sirloin steak, round eye, or London broil. All of these are quick-cooking pieces of beef that won’t leave you chewing for hours. My favorite of the bunch is round eye, which is what I’ve used today — this cut is leaner than sirloin and I like its beefy flavor, especially in this pho.
Constructing the Best Bowl of Pho
A bowl of pho is more than the sum of its parts. Each bowl gets constructed individually. Tender rice noodles are on the bottom with a layer of thinly sliced raw beef on top. Then the piping-hot broth gets ladled over the top, cooking the beef. To ensure the beef gets cooked through, slice it as thinly as possible (sticking it in the freezer for 15 minutes before slicing helps with this). Also, arrange it in just a single layer over the noodles when it’s time to build the bowl. Slices that are clumped together or stacked up won’t cook through all the way to the middle.
And don’t fret about serving “raw” meat at the table — as long your broth is steaming-hot, it will cook the beef. You’ll see the meat turn opaque and brown as you pour on the broth; however, like steak, it’s okay if you still see a bit of pink.
But we’re not done yet! In the middle of the table should be a plate of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, sliced scallions and chili peppers, wedges of lime, and any other fresh garnishes the cook feels like providing. Each diner gets their own bowl of pho and can garnish it however they like. Personally, I love lots of lime, crunchy bean sprouts, torn bits of basil, and a good squeeze of Sriracha to finish it off.
Do you love pho? What’s your favorite way to make it?
How To Make Quick Vietnamese Beef Pho
Serves 4 to 6
What You Need