Quick and Easy Vietnamese Beef Pho Recipe (Pho Bo)

Pho (Vietnamese: phở) is a dish that has extended beyond the borders of Vietnam and become popular worldwide. Among them, beef pho is the most famous variation with its sweet and savory broth, gentle herbal aroma combined with tender beef, scallions, and accompanying vegetables. Let’s discover a quick and easy Vietnamese beef pho recipe that you can make it at home in less than 1 hour.

easy vietnamese beef pho

What is Beef Pho (Pho Bo)?

Pho, a comforting bowl filled with rich broth, soft noodles, and fragrant herbs, holds a special significance within Vietnamese cuisine. Often hailed as the emblematic dish embodying Vietnam’s diverse culinary heritage, Pho transcends mere sustenance; it encapsulates a narrative of history, tradition, and culinary fervor.

Originating in early 20th century northern Vietnam, Pho’s name is believed to stem from the French term “pot au feu” (boiled beef), reflecting the influence of French colonialism. As Pho journeyed southward, it underwent regional adaptations, resulting in two predominant variations: Pho Bo (beef pho) and Pho Ga (chicken pho), each boasting distinct styles and flavor profiles.

Beef Pho, known as Phở Bò in Vietnamese, presents a lighter yet equally captivating alternative to its beefy counterpart. Its allure lies in a symphony of flavors—the savory sweetness of beef, the complexity of charred aromatics, and a subtle spice kick. Moreover, what enhances the appeal of Beef Pho is its versatility, allowing for simplicity or intricate elaboration according to the cook’s preference.

To prepare an authentic bowl of Beef Pho, it usually requires a significant amount of time, primarily for simmering the broth. However, in this easy Vietnamese beef pho recipe, I’ll reduce the cooking time by using simpler ingredients for the broth and employing a pressure cooker or Instant Pot to expedite the process.

Ingredients for an Easy Vietnamese Beef Pho

The main ingredients of beef pho include beef bones, beef (every kind of beef from beef tenderloin, sirloin, rib eye, shank, brisket, etc.), aromatic spices (star anise pods, cinnamon stick, cilantro seeds, onion, shallot, ginger, etc.), pho noodle, and optional vegetables (usually spring onion, sprouts, culantro, Thai basil). Beef Pho in the North of Vietnam is usually served with only chopped spring onion, while in the South of Vietnam, the vegetables are more diverse. In this recipe, to keep it quick and simple, I follow the North version, using only Spring onion and as the vegetable for Beef Pho.

For 4 bowls:

Beef

  • 250g (8.8 oz) beef tenderloin
  • 250g (8.8 oz) beef shank
  • 1kg (2.2 lbs) beef bones
  • 2.5L (10 cups) water

You can change to any other type of beef which you like.

Rice Noodles

  • About 8 oz of dried rice noodles, often labeled as “Pho noodle” or “Bánh Phở noodle”. They come in various widths, but for this Beef Pho recipe, the medium width is ideal.

Aromatic Spices

The recipe offers you the most basic aromatic spices, but still makes sure your Pho broth would be great. If you It includes:

  • 3-4 star anise pods.
  • 1 cinnamon stick, around 3 inches long.
  • 1-2 tbsp of cilantro seeds
  • 1 white/sweet/yellow onion or 2 shallots or both

Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

  • Green onion, finely chopped
  • Other vegetables (optional): thinly sliced white onion, Thai basil, culantro, bean sprouts
easy vietnamese beef pho

How To Make Beef Pho

While my quick and easy beef pho requires a shorter cooking time, it ensures that the heart and soul of traditional Beef Pho remains intact. Let’s start:

Step 1. Preparing the Beef, Spices, and Vegetables

  • Beef: Rinse the beef under water, with a bit of salt rubbed on the skin. Then, you can parboil it if possible. In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. Add the beef and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes. After parboiling, discard the water and rinse the beef pieces to remove any residue.
  • Vegetables: If you opt for white onions, you need to prepare them first before proceeding with other steps, as they need 1-2 hours to chill and reduce pungency. Dice the onion thinly, then rinse with salty water 2-3 times before soaking in cold water and keeping it in the refrigerator for the next few hours, until finishing the broth and starting to assemble the bowl. Also, chop spring onions, wash, and let other vegetables dry if any.
  • Aromatic Spices: Using an open flame (stovetop or grill), char the star anise pods, cilantro seeds, cinnamon stick, and onion/shallot halves until they develop a slight blackened exterior. This step imparts aromatic depth to the broth. If an open flame isn’t available, you can achieve a similar effect by roasting them in a pan.
easy pho recipe
  • After charring them, use a small bag or pod (if available) to put all small spices like cilantro/coriander seeds, star anise pods, and cinnamon stick in. You can even use a stainless steel tea infuser, but because it’s quite small, just add cilantro/coriander seeds. The rest can be added directly to the water to cook the broth.
easy vietnamese beef pho

Step 2. Simmering Beef Pho’s Broth

  • It’s recommended to use a pressure cooker or instant pot to reduce the cooking time. Pour around 2.5 liters of water into the pot and gently add your beef and beef bones. Bring it to a boil. Then, close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook under high pressure for the next 30 minutes.
  • After that, open the lid and add all your charred aromatic spices: cilantro/coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, onion/shallots to the broth. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  • Once the broth is flavorful, strain out and discard the solids. Return the clear broth to the pot and bring it back to a gentle simmer. Simply season with salt or other specialized seasonings.
easy vietnamese beef pho

Step 3. Boiling the Noodles and Cutting the Beef

Step 3 can be done in parallel with step 2.

  • If you are using dried pho noodles, you don’t have to soak them, just add the pho noodles directly into the cool water and cook on high heat. Once boiling, cook for about 3-5 minutes or until they’re just tender, then turn off the heat. Carefully drain the boiling water and immediately rinse with cold water for a firmer texture of the rice noodles.
boiling noodles for pho
  • Cut the beef into thin slices. If you would like to add medium-rare beef slices (so your beef pho becomes “phở tái” – indicating that the beef is cooked to medium rare only), take another piece of beef sirloin or tenderloin, slice it very thinly, and blanch it in the broth for 10-20 seconds.

Assembly

  • In individual serving bowls, add a portion of the cooked noodles. Top with beef and onion slices. Pour the hot broth over the noodles and beef in each bowl, ensuring that it covers the ingredients and fills the bowl. Top with chopped spring onion.
  • While eating pho, you can adjust the taste of your bowl by adding hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, chili sauce (e.g., Hoi An chili sauce or sweet chili sauce), and pickled garlic slices.
easy vietnamese beef pho

Storing Beef Pho

It’s a must to store the broth, the beef and the vegetables separately.

  • Broth: It’s best to store the broth separately from the noodles and beef to prevent the noodles from turning mushy. The broth can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to three months.
  • Rice Noodles: If you’ve cooked extra noodles, store them in a container after cooling and toss them with a tiny bit of oil to prevent sticking. They’re best consumed within a day or two.
easy vietnamese beef pho

Quick and Easy Vietnamese Beef Pho Recipe

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

Let’s discover a quick and easy Vietnamese beef pho recipe that you can make it at home in less than 1 hour.

Ingredients

Beef

  • 250g (8.8 oz) beef tenderloin (You can change to any other type of beef you like)
  • 250g (8.8 oz) beef shank
  • 1kg (2.2 lbs) beef bones
  • 2.5L (10 cups) water

Pho Rice Noodles

Aromatic Spices

Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

  • Green onion, finely chopped
  • Other vegetables (optional): thinly sliced white onion, Thai basil, culantro, bean sprouts

Instructions

Step 1. Preparing the Beef, Spices, and Vegetables

  • Beef: Rinse the beef under water, with a bit of salt rubbed on the skin. Then, you can parboil it if possible. In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. Add the beef and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes. After parboiling, discard the water and rinse the beef pieces to remove any residue.
  • Vegetables: If you opt for white onions, you need to prepare them first before proceeding with other steps, as they need 1-2 hours to chill and reduce pungency. Dice the onion thinly, then rinse with salty water 2-3 times before soaking in cold water and keeping it in the refrigerator for the next few hours, until finishing the broth and starting to assemble the bowl. Also, chop spring onions, wash, and let other vegetables dry if any.how to chop an onion
  • Aromatic Spices: Using an open flame (stovetop or grill), char the star anise pods, cilantro seeds, cinnamon stick, and onion/shallot halves until they develop a slight blackened exterior. This step imparts aromatic depth to the broth. If an open flame isn't available, you can achieve a similar effect by roasting them in a pan.easy chicken pho recipe
  • After charring them, use a small bag or pod (if available) to put all small spices like cilantro/coriander seeds, star anise pods, and cinnamon stick in. You can even use a stainless steel tea infuser, but because it's quite small, just add cilantro/coriander seeds. The rest can be added directly to the water to cook the broth.easy vietnamese beef pho

Step 2. Simmering Beef Pho's Broth

  • It’s recommended to use a pressure cooker or instant pot to reduce the cooking time. Pour around 2.5 liters of water into the pot and gently add your beef and beef bones. Bring it to a boil. Then, close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook under high pressure for the next 30 minutes.
  • After that, open the lid and add all your charred aromatic spices: cilantro/coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, onion/shallots to the broth. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.easy vietnamese beef pho
  • Once the broth is flavorful, strain out and discard the solids. Return the clear broth to the pot and bring it back to a gentle simmer. Simply season with salt or other specialized seasonings.

Step 3. Boiling the Noodles and Cutting the Beef

Step 3 can be done in parallel with step 2.

  • If you are using dried pho noodles, you don't have to soak them, just add the pho noodles directly into the cool water and cook on high heat. Once boiling, cook for about 3-5 minutes or until they're just tender, then turn off the heat. Carefully drain the boiling water and immediately rinse with cold water for a firmer texture of the rice noodles.boiling noodles for pho
  • Cut the beef into thin slices. If you would like to add medium-rare beef slices (so your beef pho becomes “phở tái” – indicating that the beef is cooked to medium rare only), take another piece of beef sirloin or tenderloin, slice it very thinly, and blanch it in the broth for 10-20 seconds.easy vietnamese beef phoCut cooked beef into thinly slices.

Assembly

  • In individual serving bowls, add a portion of the cooked noodles. Top with beef and onion slices. Pour the hot broth over the noodles and beef in each bowl, ensuring that it covers the ingredients and fills the bowl. Top with chopped spring onion.easy vietnamese beef pho
  • While eating pho, you can adjust the taste of your bowl by adding hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, chili sauce (e.g.Hoi An chili sauce or sweet chili sauce), and pickled garlic slices.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 525

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