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The search for the best bowl of Pho (pronounced a bit like ‘fur’) is one of life’s most exciting and fulfilling journeys. One of the crucial elements of a good Pho is the depth of flavour in the clear broth that accompanies the smooooooth soft rice noodes, aromatic herbs and super thin slices of beef. Traditionally, beef bones, cinnamon, cloves and star anise have to simmer for hours to be just right.
Sydney-siders are a lucky bunch. As far as Pho goes this side of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, we have restaurants in Bankstown, Cabramatta, Ashfield, Enmore and Marrickville which are world class. Drop in to see me at a market sometime and ask me about my favourite Pho restaurant and I’ll talk your ear off.
Sometimes you need a good bowl of homemade Pho. And if you don’t have six hours spare to boil up the perfect stock, then Brazen’s Vietnamese Soup Blend is an ideal way to extend a supermarket bought stock with all the flavours of Saigon.
Here is my take on the classic bowl of Pho – but there are lots of ways to use this spice blend. See the variations at the end of recipe for more ideas.
2 teaspoons of Brazen Vietnamese Soup spice
1 litre stock
1 teaspoon fish sauce or vegetarian equivalent
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Juice 1 lemon
Handful coriander leaves
3 spring onions sliced thinly
1/2 red onion sliced thinly
Chilli sliced thinly
Handful bean sprouts
1 bok choy chopped
Thin slices of beef
Place the spice mix into a tea strainer or tie in a small piece of muslin and place into the stock.
Bring to boil and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the noodles and simmer for one minute or as packet instructs.
Add fish sauce, soy sauce and lemon juice to taste.
Divide into 2 soup bowls
Top with the remaining ingredients as desired.
Use a vegetable stock and add fried tofu rather than meat.
The Vietnamese term is Pho Ga. Use a chicken stock and add poached chicken to the broth. Pho Ga is particularly nice with lime rather than the usual lemon served with beef.
Spice it Up
Bun Bo Hue (or BBH as I call it when I’m in need of fix) is a spicy Vietnamese soup from Central Vietnam. Our Brazen soup blend is a good starter for this soup, but for a good BBH taste you’ll need to add some lemongrass and shrimp paste to a beef stock. Just before you’re ready to serve, add some red pepper flakes or ground annatto seeds. Serve with sliced beef, lime wedges, fresh basil, shallots and as much bird’s eye chilli as you can handle.