Team, it's pho season! The weather is chilly, and there's almost nothing better than a huge steaming bowl of noodles and broth. Pho looks simple enough on the surface: broth, noodles, some protein and toppings galore. But the real trick to any good pho is the soup base.
I recently went to Pho 95 (1401 South Federal Boulevard) and tried the meatball pho for lunch. It was perfect; the broth was rich, flavorful, savory and slightly sweet. I literally drank it up.
Making it at home exactly like Pho 95 does would require days of roasting bones, simmering pots of aromatics and balancing flavors. Quite honestly, it's a very professional thing, and one that's hard to do right at home without a lot of practice.
So, what's a home cook with a pho hankering to do? Well, I've always thought the perfect is the enemy of the good in the kitchen, so in this DIY Takeout, you'll find my quick homemade beef noodle pho version. The recipe takes some shortcuts that make it doable while still resulting in great flavors. I can't honestly say the broth stands up to the original, though.
If you want to try the real deal, swing by Pho 95, then stop by Pacific Ocean International Market (2200 West Alameda Avenue) on your way home and get some goodies (including the meatballs) to make your own batch. Keep reading for the recipe.
Homemade Beef Meatball Soup
Total Time: 30 minutes
2 quarts beef stock
2 stalks lemongrass
2-3 inches fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
2-3 red chiles
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
10-12 ounces rice noodles, cooked and cooled
1 tablespoon sesame oil, for noodles
1 pound Vietnamese meatballs, simmered
1. Add lemongrass, garlic, chiles, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce and beef stock to a large pot. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20-30 minutes to infuse flavor. Keep warm until serving.
2. Boil rice noodles until tender. Then drain and rinse with cold water and toss with sesame oil to prevent sticking.
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3. Boil beef soup meatballs until they are cooked through. Remove and slice.
4. Make bowls by piling in noodles, ladling in stock (minus the aromatics) and spooning in a few sliced meatballs. Serve with all the garnishes!
For even more pho flavor, add a star anise pod and a splash of fish sauce to the broth while it's simmering.
Have an idea for a dish to re-create for DIY Takeout? Leave a comment or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.