Pho - Part of a Saturday Re-entry

As part of my Saturday re-entry from vacation mode, I decided to do a little food exploration.
Vietnamese Pho has become a standard in our weekend lunch outings.  I've never made pho before, but being bound to our house yesterday, it felt like a good day to give it a try.  
I went to the trusty internet to search for recipes.  After reading several, I decided to combine the shared knowledge into one recipe below.

For the broth:
6 lbs beef leg or marrow bones
1 1/2 lbs oxtail
1 lb beef shank meat, or other inexpensive meat in one whole piece
2 yellow onions, peeled and halved
2 - 2" pieces ginger, peeled and smashed
4 star anise
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 Tbsp Kosher salt - more if needed
3 Tbsp sugar
7 quarts water
You will need a large stewing or soup pot.

Blanche bones, oxtail and shank in a large pot of boiling water for about 7 minutes.  Drain everything and discard the water.  While bones, etc. are blanching, place onions and ginger in a shallow baking pan, drizzle with a little oil, and broil in the oven for about 8-10 minutes flipping everything once until charred.  Add in the star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and coriander and broil for 1 minute more.  
Return bones, etc. to pot, add in the broiled onions, etc. and cover with 7 quarts of water.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.  Add in fish sauce, salt and sugar and turn heat down to a simmer.  Simmer broth covered for 3 hours.  
For easier handling, let broth cool a bit and then remove all the bones, oxtail, meat.  You can either discard everything or use the large piece of beef, slice it and add it to your noodle bowl.  I deboned my oxtail and am going to make an oxtail marmalade.  Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve.  Return the broth to the pot and with heat on high, bring back to a boil.  I reduced the broth slightly in order to concentrate the flavors.  Set heat to achieve a rolling boil, with the pot uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  Then remove from heat and let cool completely.  Store in the refrigerator overnight.  Or, if you are making this for the same day, no need to chill, just keep it at a light simmer until you are ready to serve.  I like the make a day ahead method as it allows you to easily remove the fat that solidifies on top and I think chilling and reheating intensifies the flavors.  

For the noodles you will need:
Very thinly sliced beef (we used beef short rib) but you can buy any type of thinly sliced beef at your local Asian market
Dried rice sticks / noodles - choose the width of noodle you like
Thinly sliced green onions
Chopped cilantro
Thai basil
Bean Sprouts
Lime wedges
Sriracha hot sauce - optional
Hoison sauce - optional

For the noodles, soak in cold water for 30 minutes, then in individual portions, place into a sieve and dip in boiling water for 15-20 seconds stirring the noodles so they don't stick together.  Place in bowl and ladle broth over top.  Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.  If you choose a lean, thinly sliced meat, place the raw meet on top of the noodles before you ladle the broth on top.  With the boiling broth, it will instantly cook the beef.  For our short ribs, I dipped them for a few seconds into the same boiling water as the noodles before placing them into the bowl.
Serve with a dish of basil, bean sprouts and lime wedges and some slices of jalapeno if you like.  I like to add sriracha hot sauce.
Chris said "I think I may have a new favorite pho place."  I have to say, it was so very good!


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