Phớ bò (Vietnamese beef and noodle soup)

Phớ sure

Originally appeared in the July 5, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

Okay, sure—as our region continues coping with comically high temperatures, you may think the heat has addled my mind when sharing a recipe for steamy Vietnamese soup.  But don’t jump to conclusions.  Phớ is more about celebrating humble summer ingredients than flirting with an uncomfortable burn.

The backbone of phớ (pronounced “fah”) is a distinctive, savory broth (usually served with rice noodles); but the main attraction is not the soup, but rather the accompaniments: fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, among others), tart lime, crisp onion, fish sauce, hoisin, and spicy jalapeno.  Of course there are interpretations, as Vietnamese tradition holds that each vendor would encourage diners to tinker with the quantity and combination of their desired garnishes.

To experience a knock-out phớ, my wife and I typically made a trip to either Lafayette Road or the indelible Sandra Rice and Noodles on Pendleton Pike.  But as luck has it, Beech Grove is home to Egg Roll #1 Phớ #1 (4576 South Emerson), which boasts a wonderful Vietnamese menu along with a host of phớ variations.

If you can’t make phớ at home, stop by Phớ #1.  You’ll understand that the heat is not getting to me.  Not yet.

Phớ bò (Vietnamese beef and noodle soup)

Serves 2 – 3

  • 64 ounces beef bones
  • As needed, water
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 3-inch piece of ginger
  • To taste, kosher salt
  • 3 fluid ounces fish sauce
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 16 ounces cooked rice noodles
  • 8 ounces raw beef tenderloin, sliced very thin

1.  Place beef bones in a stockpot and add enough water to just cover the bones.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and skim impurities from time to time.  Meanwhile, cut onion in half and slice ginger lengthwise; place both ingredients on a sheetpan and place under a 500° F. broiler until flesh is charred.  Using a piece of cheesecloth and strand of kitchen twine, combine star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves, and secure with length of twine (this is called a sachet).  Add charred onion and ginger, along with salt, fish sauce, and sachet to beef stock.  Gently simmer for roughly 4 hours, until stock has reduced and flavors have concentrated.  Afterwards, remove sachet and strain the liquid.  Return stock to low heat and adjust seasonings.

2.  Suggestions for garnishes (all amounts are as desired): thinly sliced onion; bean sprouts; fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, mint; lime wedges; fish sauce; fresh jalapenos; and chile sauce.  In preparation for service, place garnishes in separate bowls and reserve.

3.  Reheat cooked rice noodles in simmering beef soup.  Portion soup and noodles into extra-large bowls.  Add sliced beef tenderloin to each bowl and allow the hot liquid to cook the beef.  Place desired amount of garnishes into soup at service.


Published in: on July 5, 2012 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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