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March 8, 2009

phoAnother one of my longstanding addictions is Pho, a.k.a Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup. I was first introduced to pho via my good friend Chan while in College and we’ve been having a hot and steamy love affair ever since (me and pho that is, Chan and I are just good friends!) 
One of the great things about living in Toronto is how easy it is to find a good quality vietnamese restaurant and one of the reasons I’m not sure I could live elsewhere. Every time I move to a new neighbourhood one of my first missions is to find the best pho place within walking distance. 
While living in the Queen West ‘hood for a number of years, my favorite place was‘Golden Turtle’ located at the corner of Ossington and Argyle. After it was rumoured that local celebrity and chef, Susur Lee, liked to dine there it became incredibly packed and busy no matter what time of day. However, the quality of the pho never suffered because of it. 
Now that I’m living on the east end of Queen street, my favorite pho haunt is Pho Mi Gia Phung at Broadview and Gerrard. The broth is tasty, never greasy and the tender beef is sliced razor thin without a trace of fat. They never skimp on onions and scallions and provide a plate full of thai basil, lime, thai red chili pepper and bean sprouts to flavor the soup to your liking. 
However, as much as I like to go out and dine on great pho (and its economical too! $5.50 for a steaming hot bowl of soup) there are times when I want to enjoy pho in my pyjamas. Since I wouldn’t be caught dead out of doors in my PJ’s I decided to try to make pho myself. There is a recipe in my Williams-Sonoma ‘Food Made Fast’ cookbook for soup. Now I have to be honest, the pho is easy to make and delicious, but it doesn’t stand a chance against the real stuff. But, in a pinch, it will do (did I mention it’s also a magical cure for a hangover?)
Here is the recipe:

1/2 lb eye of round beef steak (sliced paper thin)

2 tbsp canola oil

3.5 tsps asian fish sauce


6 cups beef broth

3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 piece cinnamon stick

8-10 oz rice vermicelli

1/4 lb bean sprouts

1/2 cup fresh thai basil, coarsely chopped

2 limes, quartered
1. Marinate the beef – in a resealable plastic bag, combine the beef slices, 1 tbsp of the oil, 1 1/2 tsp of the fish sauce and 1/4 tsp salt. Seal the bag and massage with your hands to distribute the marinade evenly. Set aside for 15 minutes at room temperature or for up to overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Cook the noodles – in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the beef broth, ginger, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, and the remaining 2 tsps fish sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the rice vermicelli, and cook just until tender, according to the package directions. Drain, rinse under running cold water, and divide evenly among 4 bowls.
3. Finish the soup – in a frying pan over high heat, warm the remaining 1 tbsp of oil. When it is hot, add the beef and cook, stirring often, until seared on both sides, about 4 minutes total. Remove from the pan and set aside. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve, return to the saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bean sprouts, basil, and beef and cook just until the bean sprouts begin to wilt, about 3 minutes. Ladle over the vermicelli and serve. Pass the lime wedges at the table to squeeze over the soup.
* I also add 1 thai red chili to the broth in step 2 (remove the seeds first!) and add scallions and chopped onion along with the bean sprouts and basil etc., in step 3.
Serve with chili sauce and hoisin for dipping

(serves 4)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2009 12:00 am

    UGH! Now I want pho!!!

  2. The "famous" Chan permalink
    March 19, 2009 12:40 am

    mmmmm soup!!

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