Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner
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Pressure Cooker Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

Pho is Vietnamese beef noodle soup. But…wait. That’s like saying Picasso was a painter. Pho seems simple. A beef broth, full of warm spices, covers rice noodles and slices of beef. There’s a plate of vegetation to add in as you please – lime wedges, cilantro and basil, bean sprouts and hot peppers. The result is a complex melody. The spices in the broth combine with the herbs; the soft noodles play off the chewy beef and the crunchy sprouts; the fiery peppers add to the warmth of the soup.
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And, while I’m at it…Pho is pronounced “fuh” (rhymes with duh), not “faux” (rhymes with sew, a needle pulling thread). Here’s an entertaining video explaining the difference.

When it comes to cooking, Pho really is as simple as it seems. The complexity comes from the combination of the ingredients; if you have a good beef broth, the rest of Pho is easy. If you have a pressure cooker, it doesn’t even take that much time.
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Recipe: Pressure Cooker Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

Inspired by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia

Equipment

 

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Pressure Cooker Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)


  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8
  • Category: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

Description

Pressure Cooker Pho Bo – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup, made quickly by pressure cooking the broth.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 pounds meaty beef shanks and oxtails
  • 1 large onion, trimmed, peeled, and sliced thin
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 dried star anise pods
  • Cinnamon stick (about 3-4 inches long)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef brisket
  • 10 cups of water, or a little more to cover the ingredients

Noodles

  • 1 pound thin rice noodles, cooked according to package directions

Condiments and add-ins

  • 2 cups sprouts (bean sprouts are traditional; I went with mixed sprouts)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (I pull a handful from the head of the bunch)
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves (Thai basil is best, but any basil will work)
  • 2 large shallots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced thin
  • 2-3 serrano chilies, stemmed and sliced thin (Thai bird chilies if you can find them)
  • Limes, cut into wedges
  • Sriracha hot sauce (or other asian hot sauce)
  • Thai fish sauce
  • Soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Brown the beef in two batches: Heat the vegetable oil in the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half the shanks and oxtails and sear for 3 minutes per side, or until well browned. Remove the to a bowl, add the second batch of oxtails and shanks, and brown for 3 minutes per side. Add to the bowl with the rest of the beef.
  2. Saute the aromatics: Add the onions and ginger to the pot and saute for 8 minutes, or until the onions are browning around their edges.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients: Increase the heat to high, add 1/2 cup of water, and scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Add the browned beef and any juices in the bowl, then the star anise, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt and sugar. Stir to combine, then put the beef brisket on the top. Pour in the 10 cups of water, which should just cover the beef.
  4. Pressure cook the stock: Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and bring the cooker up to high pressure. Lower the heat to maintain the pressure, and cook on high pressure for 50 minutes in a stovetop PC or 60 minutes in an electric PC. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally, about 20 minutes.
  5. Strain the stock and slice the beef: Open the pressure cooker, and remove the beef brisket, beef shanks, and any oxtails with a lot of meat on them to a carving board. Strain the stock into another pot through a fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth Slice the brisket crosswise, against the grain, into thin slices. Pull and shred the meat from the shanks and oxtails, removing any big hunks of fat and gristle.
  6. Serving: In individual soup bowls, put some of the rice noodles, top with some shredded and sliced beef, and cover with the strained beef stock. Serve with the condiments and add-ins at the table so people can build their own soup.

Notes

See my Pressure Cooker Beef Stock for the basic technique behind this recipe.

 

Brisket on top of everything…
…and cover with water

 

Straining the stock
Slicing the beef

 

Notes

  • Make ahead version: If you have the time, finish the recipe through step 5, then refrigerate the broth and beef separately. Up to 2 days later, de-fat the stock as I described in my beef stock recipe, then reheat the stock by bringing it back up to a boil. Continue with the serving step; the hot broth will re-heat the beef.
  • If you have leftover broth, freeze it. It will last for months, and you can make a very good Pho in as long as it takes to thaw the stock and cook the noodles..
  • Don’t have a pressure cooker? Make stock in your oven for a long, slow, even simmer. Use the ingredients from this recipe with the following oven-simmering technique: Turkey Stock Done Right. Simmer in the oven for 5 hours, then continue with step 5.
  • According to the folks at Mustard Seed Market (my local health food store), bean sprouts are extremely perishable.  They can’t keep them in stock because they go bad so quickly.  That’s why I substituted random sprouts.
Toppings for the soup, ready to go

Questions? Comments? Other ideas? Favorite places to find Pho in your neighborhood?* Leave them in the comments section below.
*Mine is not exactly in my neighborhood: Superior Pho in Cleveland. It’s a half hour drive away…but I make the trip whenever I can.

Related Posts:
Pressure Cooker Beef Stock
Straining stock
Bahn Mi – Vietnamese Sandwich

Inspired by:
Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia

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12 Comments

  1. Chris says

    I made this tonight – it was wonderful! I made a few adjustments to the spicing based on some other recipes I came across, but my entire family enjoyed it!

  2. Thank you for sharing your delicious recipe for this…I made my oxtail pho tonight and it was so good! Perfect for a cold rainy winter’s night!

  3. Mike, sounds like just the pho recipe that I’ve been wanting to try using the pc. Mine is a 6 qt. PC though. Any suggestion or guidelines to take a recipe and make a smaller amount for the PC? There’s only 2 of us eating here. And, I’m kind of new to the cooker…

    Thanks!

    Betsy K.

  4. The recipe will work fine cut back. I would cut the recipe by 25%, assuming you want leftovers.

    3 pounds of beef shank, a medium onion, 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger … and so on down the line. When you add water to cover the beef, I think you’ll use 7 to 8 cups; don’t go over your PC’s max fill line and you’ll be OK.
    Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

  5. Silverstar says

    Just found your site and it’s great! The Pho sounds really good but, I can tell you live in Ohio- the sprouts are a dead giveaway. Should be Mung bean sprouts. Keep up the good work and pray for an H Mart in your neighborhood.

  6. Adding an onion brulee (that is, a halved onion that has been blackened on the cut end) to your stock is an extra authentic touch that adds a lot of depth to the end broth. Just a thought!

  7. Good tip, Will. I read about that after I had published the recipe.

    So, for anyone else reading: Don’t slice the onion; cut it in half. In step 2, put the onion in the pot, cut side down, and leave it that way until it is black on the bottom – probably 10 minutes or more. Then add the other aromatics and cook for a minute to release their aroma, and continue with the rest of the recipe.

  8. I like to char my onion and ginger on gas stovetop till blackened up a bit and I do not brown bones or shanks, I boil bones once for 10 minutes, discard the water, strain it, then add fresh water to get a lighter yet still beefy taste. I think you really need that char taste to be authentic. I do the bones one hour in pressure cooker. Pretty fast but I still make the broth a day ahead, then the fat comes off top easier. I also add a tablespoon of MSG, don’t care what people say, the Vietnamese use it and they don’t get headaches. Instead of cutting up brisket, I use extra lean shaved steak, it is just quicker and tastes the same.

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