Not Quite Authentic Pho

We love Pho. There’s a restaurant close to our regular Laundromat that serves it at very reasonable price, so we haven’t (until now) tried making this at home. At $7-$8 per bowl that is filled with plenty of noodles and beef, we weren’t sure we could make our own for less.

But I just had to know… how long does it take to make myself and how much do the servings cost? Is it actually practical to eat out every time I want Pho?

I started with a recipe from a Vietnamese cookbook that I received as a gift from a friend a few years ago. Honestly, it looked like a lot of work. There were more ingredients than I had anticipated. I felt a bit discouraged and set the recipe aside for a month or so before I again thought “I really should try making this at home.”

When I got to the store, I encountered more hurdles. I couldn’t find beef bones to make my own stock and had to settle for a prepared beef broth. Where are the noodles? There was lots of pasta to choose from, but nothing in the way of a rice noodle. I had somen, wheat noodles, at home and it would have to do this time. Star anise was nowhere to be found. So I decided to skip that too. At this point, I was becoming skeptical that my soup would taste like Pho at all.

However, after I got home and made the soup with what was available to me, it turned out ok. One the first bite, I was very disappointed. It was flavourless. So I added some hoisin sauce to the bowl, which is just what it needed. It wasn’t exactly like the soup at the restaurant, but it was tasty good.

Here’s my very much modified recipe for homemade Pho (and a breakdown of the cost to compare it with eating out).

Not Quite Authentic Pho

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Ingredients

  • 1 box of prepared beef stock (approximately 2 ½ cups) – approximate cost $2.75
  • 200 grams of thin beef slices – approximate cost $3.50
  • 400 grams of tripe (sliced into strips if it doesn’t come pre-sliced) – approximate cost $5.50
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 bunches of somen noodles (about ½ of a package) – approximate cost $0.60
  • Hoisin sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 ½ cups of water

Method

  1. In a large pot, cook the tripe and ginger at medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add beef stock and water on high heat until it comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, cover pot with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add somen noodles and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  5. Add beef slices and cilantro and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
  6. Serve in large soup bowls with a side of hoisin sauce.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $3.35 per serving)

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the cost to make this myself. I’ll try this recipe again when I can find the ingredients for which I needed to make substitutions, including those for the broth myself and rice noodles.

Have you made Pho at home? If so, how do you prepare it?

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