We first made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and even though it was tasty, it wasn’t as good as the Pho we had in Vietnam. So we made it again. And again. Until it was just right. It looks like a lot of work and it isn’t the easiest recipe in the world. You need to put aside some time to make this, but you won’t regret it.
I remember ordering Pho for the first time. It was in a small restaurant in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon. We went there early in the morning, as we heard they had good wifi. We really needed to finish a project for a client. All day long I had been eyeing the Pho on the menu. As you can imagine, I was super excited when dinner time came around. Pho taste unlike anything I have ever tasted before. It’s salty, fatty, full of spices, light, warm, refreshing, filling. I wanted to share this Pho recipe with you because it started my love for Pho and I hope it starts yours too. Next time I’m making this, I’ll try to control myself and make a picture before I eat it.
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup or Pho recipe
slightly adapted from Inspired Taste
For the broth
2.5 kilo of beef leg bones. We got them for free at our local butcher
5.5 liter of cold water
2 medium onions, cut in quarters
a 10 cm piece of ginger, cut in half lengthwise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
6 star anise
6 whole cloves
1 black cardamom pod. You can buy this at most Asian stores but if you can’t find it, leave it out.
1,5 tablespoons of salt
1,5 tablespoons of sugar
60 ml of fish sauce
700 grams of pho noodles. You should be able to find these at your local Asian supermarket.
450 grams of beef sirloin (entrecôte)
1 onion, sliced in very thin slices (see-through thin)
a load of cilantro leaves
Fresh mint and Thai Basil sprigs
a handful of bean-sprouts
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut in quarters
Pre-heat your oven broiler on the highest setting and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Take your quartered onions and halved ginger and place them on the baking sheet and put it in to the oven. Make sure to turn them occasionally so they become charred evenly on all sides.
While your onions and ginger are in the oven, boil the bones to remove impurities. Add the bones to a large stockpot and just about cover the bones with cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Skim off the scum and foam that rises.
Drain the bones into a colander and rinse them well with warm water. Scrub the pan with soap to remove any residue and fat. Place the bones back in the pan and add 5.5 liters of cold water. Bring to a slow boil.
Put a dry frying pan on low to medium heat and add cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves and the black cardamom pod. Leave it to roast for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the spices are starting to smell really good, place them in a cotton muslin bag/herb sachet/piece of cheesecloth and tie it up into a bundle with butchers twine.
Add the ginger, onions and the pouch of herbs to the boiling bones. Add the salt, sugar and fish sauce and let it simmer for about 3 hours. If any foam rises to the surface, scoop it off with a skimmer.
In the meanwhile, put your beef sirloin in the freezer for about 15 minutes. It will harden a little, making it easier to slice. Thinly slice the beef across the grain into thin slices and put them in the fridge.
Take the onion you sliced and place it in some water for about 20 minutes. This will tone done the raw flavor of the onion.
After 3 hours, get pliers to take out the bones, onions, ginger and herbs. Take your pan and strain your broth through a fine mesh strainer, optionally lined with a cheesecloth. Skim the fat from the top of the broth with a spoon. This is easier if you let the broth cool, as the fat will solidify. Nick is not too bothered with fat, so he just left it because it adds a lot of taste. Put the broth back on the stove and let it simmer on the lowest heat.
Get your pho noodles out and let them soak for as long as needed according the instructions on the packet.
Fill each bowl for about 1/3 with noodles. Add some slices of the raw sirloin. Top with hot broth and add some sliced onions and cilantro. (I like a lot of onions in my Pho).
Serve with well stocked plates of garnishing. Squeeze over the lime and enjoy this perfect soup.
If you’re really hungry, make these as a side dish
Have you ever been to Vietnam? If you have, you’ve probably tried these spring rolls and have fallen in love. If you haven’t: you will fall in love. Also, Vietnam is great and you should try to visit sometime. For realsies.
Fresh Vietnamese Spring rolls
adapted from DesignSponge
Ingredients for the spring rolls:
Rice paper (make sure they are suited for fresh spring rolls, there are lots of different kinds!)
500 grams of shrimps
1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
4 carrots, cut into thin strips
1 crop of green lettuce, cut into thin strips
1 bunch of cilantro (we love cilantro, so we usually end up with 3 bunches)
1 bunch of mint
Rice vermicelli noodles
For the Peanut Sauce:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tea-spoon of olive oil (or sesame oil if you’ve got it.)
10 table spoons of peanut butter
3 teaspoons of hoisin sauce
4 table spoons of water (we usually end up adding more, as this sauce thickens quickly)
Sweet and sour sauce
Start by cutting all the vegetables in thin strips. When you’re done, put them aside and start setting the table.
Cook the noodles as per instructions on the package. Allow to dry at room temperature.
Time to make the peanut sauce. This sauce is meant as a dipping sauce but I put it inside of my spring rolls. I like it better that way.
Put the olive oil (or optionally sesame oil) in a small saucepan and set it on medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 20 seconds. Do not let the garlic burn. Add peanut butter and hoisin sauce and continue to stir. When the sauce begins thickening, add water. Adjust to taste and continue to add water if it becomes too thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
You can now put everything on the table. Do not forget a flat bowl or pan filled with hot water. You need this to soften the rice paper.
To assemble rolls, dip single sheets of rice paper into hot water for a few seconds. Allow excess water to drain and quickly place on a plate. Add a layer of peanut sauce, some sweet and sour sauce and stack on the shrimps, softened noodles, lettuce, cucumbers, red peppers, carrot, cilantro and mint. Carefully roll closed and slice in half. SUPER YUMMY.
If you’re like me and love cilantro, buy some more cilantro and pile up!
9 months. It’s been 9 months since we left home. 9 months of just him and me. There was never any doubt if we could do this. We moved in together after three weeks and we haven’t been apart since. 5 years and 7 months ago we met and I still love him as much as I did then, more even. We are seeing the world together. There are a few great things in the world, this is one of them.
This picture was taken in Vietnam. We had just arrived and we were looking for coffee. This was the first place we saw, the floor covered in cigarette buds, just some stools and tables in someone’s living room. They served the best Vietnamese coffee. This is where I learned to drink coffee. I remember tasting it and being surprised. Vietnamese coffee tastes like chocolate, milk chocolate with lots of sugar and coffee. It’s divine. There was a kitten on a rope tied to a pole, playing with a ball of string. We just sat there and loved it. So many memories have already been made and there are so many new memories waiting to be made.
Nick’s sister is joining us for a while, she will be here for our new memories. We made this for her because she’s excited out of her mind. // Countdown
We’ve said it before but we really love to learn, this website is so great // Skillshare
I don’t know why I haven’t seen this website before, it’s about everything we love // We Heart
This website is actually for kids, but we love it too // DIY
We’re going to be in NZ in a couple of months and we can’t wait to visit this place // Memphis Belle
I said ‘yum’, Nick said ‘ew’, what do you say? // Peanut Butter Pickle Sandwiches
Enjoy the links, we hope you had a nice weekend!
I love traveling, but today I just want to go home and drink tea with my mum in the living room I grew up in and not worry about anything. Instead I’m in Bangkok, working. Our family dog has been getting older for a while now and today my mum will take him for his last walk to the vet. It hurts not being there to say goodbye.
Thinking about Hoi An reminds me of why I’m traveling and why I love it so much. One of the reasons we left everything behind and are so far away from our native country is to find a new place to call home. Even though we already know it’s not going to be in Southeast Asia, if it would, it would be Hoi An. Hoi An made us feel at home.
We fell deeply in love with Hoi An. We loved its streets, its beaches and even its touts couldn’t bother us as much as they do elsewhere. Of all South-East Asia’s countries Vietnam has a special place in our hearts and Hoi An is one of the reasons.
Hearing the news about my mum’s dog made me think about our own dog. Nick and I got a dog only two months after we met. Zena was a stray dog and it was love at first sight. She is currently on an extended sleepover at Nick’s father and she is having the time of her life. Still, I wish she was here today.
Editing Hoi An’s photo’s couldn’t have come at a better time. Seeing them cheered me up, remembering our great time there.
Think of your worst sunburn ever. And then add a little more sunburn. That was how my skin felt after being on the back of a motorbike for a day.
Anyone that has been in Vietnam can tell you it can get really hot. The day we hopped on a motorbike tour in Vietnam from Hue to Hoi An was no different. Excited and nervous about getting on a motorbike with a complete stranger, it never occurred to me that being in the sun all day could have a not so happy ending for me.
About one hour into the tour, I started to notice my skin turning red. This happens, I’m a pale Dutch girl and I turn red before I tan. At this point I could have asked the driver to take my backpack off the motorbike and get my suntan lotion. But I didn’t. I thought I would be fine (the drive takes about 5 hours, I don’t know what I was thinking). So we just drove on. And it was hot, even on the motorbike there was no escaping the Vietnamese heat. With every stop I could see myself getting redder and redder. Somehow I kept hoping that it would be okay and that I wasn’t really sun burnt but just looking a bit reddish today. When we finally arrived in Hoi An I was turning purple and Nick was a nice bright shade of red.
At first I didn’t think it was that bad but when I looked at myself in the mirror I knew I was screwed. We were out of after-sun lotion and apparently we also left our brains in Hue. So instead of looking for a place to buy some after-sun, we went straight into Hoi An’s happy hour. To soothe the pain we made sure to drink a lot of happy hour mojitos. It worked, nothing beats sunburn like a couple of mojitos.
Did you ever forget your suntan lotion anywhere? Or anything else clearly essential?
Rượu thuốc means medicinal liquor and is a special Vietnamese drink. I’ve never seen anyone drink it but I guess there must be people drinking this. Vietnamese people believe Rượu thuốc will improve their health and in this case, make them a super man. It comes with different animals and herbs. The most famous is the snake or scorpion version. I particularly liked this white horse penis one.
A long time ago, I studied art and my main focus were the male genitalia. I don’t know how I came up with that but somehow all of my work was penis-related. I once crocheted a giant penis table-cloth in traditional Doily style. It was beautiful. I still have it if anyone is interested.
Even though I don’t make penis-related art anymore, I can still appreciate things like this. And a white horse, that almost sounds like unicorn. Unicorn penis alcohol, who wouldn’t want to drink that!
We always talked about how much we hate organized tours and how we would never join one. Travel can change you and sometimes doing the easy thing feels a lot better than doing the hard thing.
After China we needed some relaxation and somehow we ended up on a three-day organized cruise through Ha Long Bay. Being on a boat, lying in the warming sun of Ha Long Bay and feeling the silty sea winds blow through your hair. We have longed for this. We haven’t actually relaxed since we left home. Traveling can be hard work sometimes.
This was the first time we really did not have to do anything. Every second of the day was planned out for us, we did not have to bother ourselves with itineraries or planning. Herded like sheep we followed the tour guide around. Sounds horrible. It was amazing. So relaxing. We met some really nice people on the boat, we had three very nice Vietnamese meals every day and we saw the fantastic things Ha Long Bay has to offer.