My journey through Asia took me to the vibrant streets of Vietnam, a country that left me in awe for two very distinct reasons: the chaotic traffic and the heavenly cuisine.
I didn’t even know where to begin first. There were so many dishes I wanted to try. So, I started with the signature dish of this country – Vietnamese pho.
Easy Beef Pho Recipe with Flank Steak
I stopped by Pho Thin in Hanoi, the city’s most famous pho spot. There are too many options, so I opted for Pho Nam – pho with flank steak.
For the first sip, I understand why this Vietnamese noodle soup has taken the world by storm. A steaming bowl is filled with rice noodles, green onions, and thin slices of succulent beef submerged in a rich, flavorful broth that has been simmered to perfection.
As I looked at the authentic pho recipe, I could see why the broth is the heart and soul of this dish. It is typically made by slow-cooking bones (usually beef or chicken) with a blend of onions, fish sauce, ginger, and spices like star anise and cloves.
Vietnamese Pho is often served with lime juice and vegetables like fresh bean sprouts, and aromatic basil leaves. You can add chili slices, chili, or tomato sauce. What’s more interesting is that you can even enjoy this Vietnamese soup with fried dough sticks or a bow l of poached egg in pho broth.
Unlike the Thai Noodle, this Vietnamese Pho is a difficult noodle recipe. The traditional Vietnamese beef pho recipe is quite complex for me. So I find an easier recipe for pho noodles. Here is how to make Vietnamese Pho with flank steak:
Simple Vietnamese Pho recipe with flank steak
- 200 g flat rice noodles
- 500 g flank steak thinly sliced
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 5 shallot small chopped
- 2 slices of ginger about 2 inches, sliced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- 4-5 cups water
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and pepper to taste you can use sugar instead of MSG
- Green onions thinly sliced
- Fresh herbs, cilantro, basil, mint for garnish
- Bean sprouts and lime wedges for serving
- Season the flank steak with 1 teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper. Add 1 teaspoon of chopped shallot. All are mixed well and left for about 20 minutes.
- In a pan, fry cinnamon sticks and star anise until fragrant.
- Place the onion slices on a baking sheet. Broil in the oven until charred. This adds depth of flavor to the broth.
- In a large pot, add vegetable oil and the remaining shallots, saute it for a few minutes. Add flank steaks and stir continuously for about 5 minutes or until the meat is firm.
- Add water, 2 slices of crushed ginger, the charred onion, cinnamon sticks, and star anise to the pot. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- Add fish sauce, soy sauce, 1 tbsp of MSG, salt, and pepper to the broth. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
- While making the broth, cook the rice noodles according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
- Divide the cooked rice noodles among serving bowls. Top with green onions and bean sprouts. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles.
- Top the bowls with fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, and mint. Serve lime wedges, chili or tomato sauce on the side.
If you want to make Pho with Rare Beef and Flank Steak, you just need to dip thin slices of rare beef into a pot of broth until cooked and put into the bowl.
Different Types of Vietnamese Pho
There are different types of Vietnamese pho. Each type boasts its unique combination of ingredients, transforming a simple pho bowl into a gastronomic adventure. If you don’t know which type to choose, here are some clues for you:
- Pho with Meatballs (Pho Bo Vien) with savory beef or pork meatballs that add a flavorful twist to the broth.
- Pho with Medium to Medium-rare Eye of Round (Pho Tai) with thin slices of raw eye round steak.
- Pho with Flank Steak (Pho Nam) with tender slices of flank steak, known for their hearty flavor and satisfying chew.
- Vietnamese Pho with Brisket (Pho Gau) with slow-cooked brisket.
- Pho with Tendon (Pho Gan) with gelatinous tendon slices
- Pho with Tripe (Pho Sach) with thin strips of tripe.
Sometimes, they combine 2 – 3 types of meat in a bowl, like rare beef and tendon, rare beef and flank steak, or tendon and flank steak.
- Vietnamese Pho with Red Wine (Pho Sot Vang): This version includes red wine in the broth. And the broth is thicker than the original pho recipe.
- Chicken Pho (Pho Ga): A variation featuring tender chicken slices and a fragrant broth, perfect for those who prefer poultry over beef.