Nutritious and healing Vietnamese Pho! Ready to go at your place ridiculously easy

Vietnamese Pho
Vietnamese Pho Ingredients

The exponential nutritional benefits of bone broth have been known through the ages, whether it be by the healers of tribes, the elders of communities or the grandmothers of any ethnic group from every nation- bone broth brings energy and heals us from a cellular level.

How many of us spend dollars on supplements to strengthen bones and joints, or help with hair growth, magnesium and mineral deficiencies?  Bone broth is a great source of those exact minerals we pay plenty for-  collagen, proline, chondroitin glucosamine and gelatin are all found in bone broth, all supporting strong connective tissues, strong bones, lustrous hair growth, elasticity in the skin and strong nails- oh yeah, and healing a leaky gut.
•    Bone broths sulphur and glutathione content support detoxification
•    Not to mention minerals, potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium all required for strengthening the immune system.
•    Simmering a bone broth slowly and gently extracts the valuable nutrients from the bones, making it a dietary powerhouse, helping anyone who experiences intestinal inflammation, immunological, inflammatory and autoimmune health conditions.

It’s in these winter months bone broth- or even more so, Vietnamese Pho is just so easy to consume every day.  I love a homemade pho for breakfast, so much so, I really wanted to share my recipe.
Keeping jars in my freezer for my daily brothy I was over the moon when I realized one of my favourite meals could also be kept on hand in the freezer for whenever I feel the need.  Vietnamese Pho- home made and ready to go!

Step 1- have you got what you need?
The basis of a traditional Pho is a well simmered bone broth, however to get the full nutritional benefits, make sure you tick some essential boxes of preparation.
•    A slow cooker.  This is important so you can moderate your broths temperature, you will see why further along when we start talking about saturated fats.
•    Filtered water.  You are creating a nutritious broth, the fluoride, hormones, nitrates and pesticides found in your tap water is not going to give you optimal benefits.  Filtered water is a must.

•    Organic bones.  The hardest item to find is a trusted butcher that will provide best quality bones from organic animals.   There is no point leeching the wonderful proteins and minerals out of those bones if you are also going to be leeching into your broth the hormones pesticides and toxins a non-organic cow absorbs in its life time.   There are not may organic butchers around, so find the one closest to you-  visit just once a month if a weekly visit won’t fit into your schedule http://www.australianorganicdirectory.com.au

It will take you 2 days simmering your pho’s bone broth + another 12 hrs or so of refrigeration to allow for the fat to harden on the surface of your bone broth before you can use your broth to make your pho (IF you choose to skim the fat- i dont)   For example, Saturday nights Pho is best to be started  on Wednesday morning- who’s up for rushing and stress, not me.  So go easy and start and start 2-3 days early.    Once you have your pho broth prepared, you can put it in the fridge until you are ready, this will only enrich the flavors more so, or freeze it and have it ready to go for weeks to come.

Step 2- Ingredients for the bone broth
•    1 Organic thigh bone-  get the butcher to cut it into small pieces.  There is a lot of marrow in the big thigh bone
•    1 Chuck bone-  a length of chuck bone is the backbone (desirable as it has some meat). It is best to try and get bones that have some meat still on them to add flavor to your broth, but don’t worry, if there is no meat on your bones, it is the marrow and proteins from the bone we are really wanting.
•    Apple Cider Vinegar – a splash (couple of tablespoons)
•    2 inches of fresh ginger- thick sliced
•    3 cinnamon sticks
•    1 Tablespoon coriander seeds (roughly measured, more rather than less)
•    1 Tablespoon fennel seeds (roughly measured, more rather than less)
•    6 Star anise (roughly, more rather than less)
•    8 whole cloves (roughly measured, more rather than less)
•    2 black cardamom pods –  find black cardamom, black cardamom is a member of the ginger family and marries well with the ginger and other spices in a pho. Green cardamom has a different flavour.
Fiji market King St Newtown NSW has every spice under the Australian sun.
•    1.5 Tablespoons Himalayan salt
•    ¼ cup Fish Sauce.   Red boat is the best brand
Many people add what is called “lump” sugar to a pho recipe, I find it tantalisingly flavoursome without the lump of sugar, not adding any sugar to my Pho at all.

Ingredients for the Pho
•    Bean sprouts
•    Noodles.  You can usually find fresh noodles at Asian markets, or you can use dried vermicelli rice noodles.
•    500 grams of organic beef.  Sliced very thinly.   (place beef in freezer for a couple of hrs to make it easier to slice)
•    I find 500grams is more than enough for three people, usually having enough for tomorrow- for whoever gets in first!

For the table– once the broth is done and you are ready to “Pho it up” on the night

•    Chilli – thinly sliced
•    Lime Wedges
•    Basil- fresh leaves
•    Mint- fresh leaves
Hoisin Sauce-  some people add hoisin sauce to their bowl of Pho, again, I find the spicy pho broth super tasty without the sugary addition of hoisin sauce.  Choice is yours.

Step 3 – do it!   Method for the bone broth 2-3 days prior to consuming
•    Place bones on an oven tray, bake the bones in slow oven- 150 degress for approx. 30 – 40 minutes or until it smells well roasted.  You are simply hardening the marrow of the bones so nutrients are easily extracted when slow cooking.

•    Remove bones from oven, place in a slow cooker pot on low, cover bones to the top with filtered water, splash a small amount of apple cider vinegar into your pot.   ACV draws more of the proteins out of the bones

•    You will be cooking slowly for 48 hours.

•    Once you have got your bones going in the slow cooker, it’s time to add your pho spices.  Get out your non- stick fry pan- add cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves, and the black cardamom to a dry frying pan.  Place onto low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant.  About 5 minutes.

•    Once spices are warmed and fragrant, add to your bone broth, add the fish sauce,  and that’s it- come back in 24hrs.

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 •    After 24hr period, using tongs, remove any meat there may from the bones.  Place the bones back in the stock pot.  If there was a lot of meat, you may want to reserve meat in the refrigerator for something else (its organic meat so we still eat it at our place) – or give it to the dogs.

•    Spices remain in the slow cooker for the full 48hrs of simmering. Keep slow cooker on lowest heat for a further 24. You will need to add more filtered water to ensure water level is maintained throughout the extraction process.

•    After 24 hrs, remove all bones and spices from the broth.  The bones and spices can go in the bin.  Use a large slotted spoon to scoop out all the bones and spices.   You may want to use a sieve after this, pouring the liquid into another large bowl (be careful its hot) to ensure you have removed any little pieces of bone or hard spice pieces.

So now you have your broth in the stock pot- unskimmed of its fat.

What happens next is up to you.  To remove the fat or not?

Here comes the food picky (educated) Nutritionist in me.   Oxidation of fats.

Traditionally yes, the fat from broth is removed, however I understand the powerful benefits of saturated fats, I enjoy a diet full of saturated fat from tallow, ghee, butter and the like.  To simply throw away something of such outstanding nutritional value, something so calorie dense is just crazy.  I don’t skim the fat from my bone broths.   Slow cooking your broth at a low temperature will not increase the temperature above 94° Celsius.  Temperatures slightly vary with slow cooker brands, generally 74° – 94° Celsius is your standard “low” on a slow cooker.   The smoke point of tallow (the saturated fat in your bone broth) is up at 220° Celsius.  That is, the fatty acids of your fat don’t oxidize and become harmful until they are heated to 220° Celsius.

•    If you choose to skim the fat: Place the bone broth in the fridge in the original slow cooker pot.  The next morning, once the fat has solidified on the top of your broth, scrape the fat from the top.  Many people use this “tallow” to cook with.  Tallow is an exceptionally healthy fat to use in your cooking.
•    If you choose to keep the fat:  There you have it!  Your pho broth is ready to go.

The broth can be placed in glass jars and frozen for later consumption.  Simply taking a jar (each portion) out of the freezer the night before and heat it up on the stove top the next morning.

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To assemble your Pho on the day
•    Let’s say you have prepared your pho broth and it is ready – you don’t want to freeze it, you are going to use it tonight.

•    Boil a jug of water, place your vermicelli noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiled water.  Leave the noodles to soften for 5 mins…

•    Thinly slice your beef.  You have had it in your freezer to harden a little so its easy to slice super thin slices.  Approx 150 grams per person is more than enough, pho is so filling  By the time you do this, your noodles will be cooked and ready to add to your broth

•    Simply pour as much broth as you would like into a large soup pot on the stove.  Approx 600ml per person and get it simmering.  Once simmering, add thin sliced beef.  The beef will be cooked in just moments.  To give you an indication of how little cooking is needed, traditionally beef still appears to be a tad raw in the bowl when a Pho is served.

•    No sooner have you dropped your beef into the pho broth are you scooping it back out again.
•    Poor your broth into your serving bowl,
•    Add desired amount of noodles to your pho bowl
•    Using tongs; fish out the beef adding to your pho broth

Serving, I like to give each person their own separate bowl of bean-sprouts, sliced chili, basil and mint leaves to be able to add to their own bowl of pho

Enjoy – There is nothing better for the heart than the satisfying ‘yums” of sharing a home cooked meal with those you love. xxx

Once you have your stock of Pho broth in the freezer, it is super easy to be able to whip up a Pho for anytime of the day.  Pho is a breakfast favourite around our place, personally I don’t add the vermicelli noodles to my pho when having it for breakfast.  Of course, you can if a carbohydrate hit is what you so desire in the morning.
Just defrost your broth overnight, heating on the stove top in the morning, add your bean sprouts basil mint and chili and there you have it! Heart healthy saturated fats to keep you full, protein for muscle grown, with the added crunchie texture of vitamin and mineral packed bean sprouts and herbs-  what’s not to love about a pho for breakfast!

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