In Hanoi, restaurants are dedicated solely to serving Vietnam’s iconic national dish: pho. Little street stalls also abound, with the world’s smallest plastic stools set out for you to sit on while you hunch over your steaming hot noodle soup. I’ve been told it’s meant for breakfast, but people seem to eat it all day. If you truly want to recreate the real McCoy then making your own stock is imperative. I know that sounds like an almighty job, but your efforts will be rewarded.
To make the broth, put the beef short ribs in a roasting tin and
While the broth is coming to the boil, preheat your grill (broiler). Put the ginger and onion on a baking tray and grill for 3-5 minutes each side until blackened. This adds a smoky taste to the broth. Peel the onion and discard the skin. Add the charred onion and ginger, salt and all of the remaining ingredients to the broth. Once it reaches the boil, reduce the heat to as low as possible, cover with a lid, leaving it slightly ajar, and simmer for 3-4 hours. It’s important not to stir the stock or it will become cloudy so just leave it to bubble away slowly. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Reserve the meat and discard the vegetables and spices. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones and discard the bones, sinew and fatty pieces. Pull the meat into small pieces and set aside.
Skim the excess fat off the broth, then bring to a gentle simmer. Taste the stock and add extra fish sauce or more sugar if needed. It should be slightly salty with a little tang.
Making the seared steak to serve is traditional but if you want to save time you can enjoy the soup with just the short rib meat. Lightly oil and season the steak and cook on a barbecue or chargrill pan preheated to high heat for 2 minutes on each side for medium rare (depending on the thickness of the meat). Stand for 10 minutes, then cut against the grain into thin slices.
While the beef is resting, soak the rice noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes or until al dente. Drain and divide between four to six serving bowls. Divide the beef rib meat between the bowls and ladle 2-3 cups of broth over the top. Top with a few slices of grilled steak. Serve the onion, pickled chilli, bean sprouts, herbs, sriracha and lime wedges in small separate bowls to allow each person to garnish their own soup.
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