Phô (Gluten Free)
I feel like before we get into this we should all just take a moment of silence to appreciate Phô.
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I’m pretty much a complete rookie when it comes to Asian cuisines, but that doesn’t stop me from being fascinated with them. That being said, I had never had Phô before I made it. I just don’t go to a lot of places where it’s an option, you know. But I’ve always loved the idea of it. Probably stems back to how absolutely delicious food looks in Miyazaki films. I don’t know what that soup they eat in Ponyo is called, but mark my words, I’ll be making it.
Now, because Phô is Vietnamese, the flavor profile is different than their neighbors in Japan. The spices used in this delicious broth are more closely linked to India, from what I can tell. (Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and such). And all I can tell you is that when those spices are roasted and boiled with beef bones, they sing the song of their people. It is a beautiful song.
Gluten free rice noodles, even specifically Phô noodles, are pretty easy to come by. So grab a pack of noodles and a couple pounds of bones, because this is the soup you’re looking for.
3 pounds beef bones
30 grams ginger
1 large onion
4 pounds chuck roast (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 tablespoon coriander
5 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-3 tablespoons sugar
1 pound rice noodles
toppings, (cilantro, limes, bean sprouts, sliced chile, sriracha, hoisin, soy sauce)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Begin by rinsing the bones very thoroughly. Slice the ginger and onion in half and put them on a sheet pan with the bones.
Cover with Aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Throw everything on that sheet pan in a dutch oven along with the spices, anchovy paste, soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Pour in a gallon of water.
Now a word on spices…
I just put them in the pan loose because I figured I’m going to have to fish out all the bones and ginger and other unsightly things anyway, but if you’d like to tie them in a little square of cheese cloth, feel free to. (You’ll also notice that I used GROUND coriander and anise SEEDS and you’re not really supposed to. What can I say? Improv).
Bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours. Because that takes a long time and the broth will keep, you have a ton of leeway when it comes to timing. But if you plan on eating the soup the same day, while you’re waiting for the broth you should do this:
Salt and pepper the chuck, rub both sides with some olive oil and brown it in a hot skillet, about 4 minutes each side. Then pop that baby in the oven at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the chuck roast in for another hour. Then take it out of the oven and let it rest.
Now our broth and meat should have caught up to each other. Remove the spices, bones, ginger and everything that’s not liquid from the broth. Using a fine-mesh strainer will help with this. Taste it and see if it needs more salt or sugar, but be wary in adding more spice. If it tastes a little fatty to you, you can refrigerate it and skim the fat that solidifies at the top.
Last step, slice the chuck roast very thinly and add noodles to the broth. Rice noodles only need about a minute to cook, so serve up the soup right away before they get overdone or gelatinous.
Top your bowl to your liking and enjoy!
Psst! Go for the sriracha.