Easy Mason Jar Pho: Quick, Customizable, and Delicious Recipe

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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We’ve all heard of meal prep, but how about taking your lunch game to a whole new level with mason jar pho? This innovative twist on the classic Vietnamese noodle soup packs all the vibrant flavors and hearty ingredients into a portable, convenient jar. It’s a game-changer for those of us always on the move, craving something warm, comforting, and a tad exotic during our lunch breaks.

Imagine layering tender slices of beef, rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a rich, aromatic broth all in one mason jar. Just add hot water when you’re ready to dive in, give it a good shake, and voila! You’ve got yourself a steaming bowl of pho, no matter where you are. Let’s embark on this culinary adventure together and discover how easy and satisfying mason jar pho can be.

Ingredients

Gathering the right ingredients is the first step to crafting your mason jar pho. Let’s ensure we have everything we need to bring this comforting dish to life.

For the Pho Broth Concentrate

  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

For the Mason Jar Assembly

  • 1 cup cooked rice noodles, cooled and drained
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced beef (preferably flank steak or sirloin)
  • 1/4 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • A few basil leaves
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 small chili pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha or your favorite chili sauce
  • Additional lime wedges
  • Fresh mint leaves

With these ingredients expertly layered in your mason jar, you’re just a step away from enjoying a delicious, steaming hot pho, perfect for those bustling, busy days.

Equipment Needed

Embarking on the journey of creating Mason Jar Pho requires a modest set of kitchen tools that most home cooks already have on hand. Ensuring you have the right equipment ready goes a long way in making the preparation process as smooth as possible. Let’s dive into the essentials needed to bring this convenient and mouth-watering dish to life.

Mason Jars

First and foremost, the star of our show: Mason jars. Opt for quart-sized jars to accommodate all the layers of our pho, including the noodles, broth, and toppings. The size of the jar is crucial as it needs to be large enough to hold a satisfying portion but also to allow for the expansion of ingredients when hot water is added. Choose jars with tight-sealing lids to ensure your broth stays warm and to prevent any leaks if you’re planning to take your pho on the go.

Kettle or Pot

A reliable kettle or pot is indispensable for boiling water. A quick-boil electric kettle is a great option for its speed and convenience, especially if you want your pho ready in a jiffy. Alternatively, a stovetop pot will do the job just fine. The key here is to have boiling water ready to pour over your ingredients, turning your mason jar into a steamy, aromatic bowl of pho.

Sharp Knife

A sharp knife will be your best friend when it comes to preparing the ingredients for your Mason Jar Pho. From thinly slicing the beef to chopping the herbs, a good quality, sharp knife ensures precision and safety. Remember, a blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp one as it requires more pressure and can slip more easily.

Cutting Board

Of course, with a sharp knife comes the need for a sturdy cutting board. Preferably use one that’s easy to clean and spacious enough to handle all your ingredients. A bamboo or plastic cutting board serves well, providing a stable surface for all your chopping and slicing needs.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Accuracy is key when it comes to assembling your Mason Jar Pho, especially in balancing the flavors of the broth and seasonings. Having a set of measuring cups and spoons on hand ensures that you can precisely measure out the broth, sauces, and spices, contributing to a perfectly seasoned pho.

Preparing the Pho Broth Concentrate

Creating a flavorful pho broth concentrate is crucial for a delectable mason jar pho. This concentrate will serve as the base of our dish, packing each jar with authentic Vietnamese flavors.

Toasting the Spices

First, we’ll begin by toasting the spices to unlock their aromatic oils and enhance the pho’s traditional fragrance. You’ll need:

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • A small piece of ginger, sliced

In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the cinnamon stick, star anise, whole cloves, and cardamom pod for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until they become fragrant. Be sure to keep them moving in the pan to prevent burning. Add the sliced ginger to the pan during the last minute of toasting to lightly char its edges. This process amplifies the spice flavors, laying a foundation for our pho broth concentrate.

Simmering the Ingredients

Once the spices are toasted:

  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • Toasted spices
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
  • Salt, to taste

Add the 4 cups of beef broth to a pot along with the toasted spices, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. This allows the spices to infuse the broth with their complex flavors. Be mindful of the saltiness, adjusting with a bit of water if the broth becomes too concentrated.

Straining the Broth

After simmering, it’s time to strain the broth to ensure a clear concentrate for our mason jar pho. Place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and carefully pour the broth through it, catching the spices and any solids. What’s left is a clear, fragrant pho broth concentrate that’s ready to be portioned into mason jars. This concentrated broth will combine with boiling water in the jar to create the perfect soup consistency, brimming with the deep, aromatic flavors characteristic of traditional pho.

Assembling the Mason Jar Pho

After creating a richly flavored pho broth concentrate, it’s time to assemble our mason jar pho, a meal perfect for those on-the-go moments or when in need of a quick, comforting dish. Let’s delve into the steps to bring this flavorful Vietnamese classic into a convenient, portable form.

Layering the Ingredients

To start, select a quart-sized mason jar for each serving. This size ensures ample space for all the components to fit comfortably and for the hot broth to circulate, rehydrating and cooking the ingredients evenly. Begin by placing 2 tablespoons of the pho broth concentrate in the bottom of the jar. The concentrate is key to achieving that deep, nuanced flavor characteristic of traditional pho.

Next, add thinly sliced beef or a substitute of your choice directly on top of the concentrate. The beef should be paper-thin; it cooks quickly when hot broth is added, ensuring tender, flavorful bites. Alternatively, for a vegetarian option, thinly sliced tofu or mushrooms can be used.

Continue by adding the dry rice noodles. Breaking them if necessary, to ensure they fit within the jar snugly. Leave room at the top for the vegetables and herbs to prevent overpacking.

Top the noodles with a mix of fresh herbs and vegetables. We recommend thinly sliced onions, chopped cilantro, and green onions for a burst of freshness. Bean sprouts, basil leaves, and slices of jalapeño or other chilis can be added for crunch and heat. The raw vegetables and herbs not only add texture and flavor but also vibrant layers visible through the glass, making the jar visually appealing.

Lastly, sprinkle in spices like additional star anise or a cinnamon stick piece for an extra layer of flavor. This not only enhances the taste but also fills the air with a delightful aroma once the hot broth is poured in.

Cooking the Noodles

To enjoy the mason jar pho, simply boil water and carefully pour it into the jar, ensuring to cover all the ingredients. Use a spoon to gently stir and combine the layers, making sure the broth concentrate dissolves completely and evenly flavors the dish.

Seal the jar with its lid and let it sit for about 5 minutes. The heat will cook the beef slices (or alternative protein) and soften the noodles, while also intensifying the spices’ aroma and melding the flavors together.

After the waiting period, carefully remove the lid and give the pho another gentle stir. The noodles should be tender, the beef cooked through, and the vegetables slightly softened yet still crisp, encapsulating the essence of a traditional pho in a convenient and portable mason jar.

Make-Ahead Instructions

After layering our mason jar pho with all the necessary ingredients, we’re ready to dive into the make-ahead instructions. This step is crucial for those bustling days when every minute counts. Let’s ensure our mason jar meal is not just tasty but also conveniently ready when we are.

Preparing Pho Broth Concentrate

First things first, let’s start with our pho broth concentrate. We want to cook down the broth until it’s dense with flavors and has reduced to about one-fourth of its original volume. This concentrate can be cooled down and then poured into ice cube trays to freeze. Once frozen, pop these cubes into a freezer bag and store them away. When you’re ready to assemble your mason jar pho, grab a cube or two and place them right at the bottom of your jar. This method preserves the rich essence of pho broth, ensuring every sip is as flavorful as it is aromatic.

Assembling Dry Ingredients

Next, let’s tackle the dry layer. Combine slices of beef or tofu, dry rice noodles, and your chosen spices into a separate, smaller bag or cling wrap. This mix can be prepared several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Keeping these ingredients separate from the broth ensures they stay fresh and don’t absorb moisture before it’s time to cook them.

Layering Fresh Ingredients

For the fresh elements like herbs, green onions, bean sprouts, and lime wedges, we recommend prepping these a night before. Wrap them in damp paper towels and store them in the refrigerator inside an airtight container. This keeps them vibrant and crisp, ready to be added to your pho for that burst of fresh flavor.

Assembly and Storage

Once all parts are prepped, it’s as simple as layering them into your mason jar when you’re ready to eat. Start with your frozen broth concentrate at the bottom, add your dry ingredients, and pack your fresh ingredients on top. Seal your mason jar tightly and store it in the fridge if you’re not consuming it immediately. Our mason jar pho can be stored like this for up to two days, ensuring that you have a delicious and quick meal ready to go whenever you need it. All that’s left is to add hot water, give it a good stir, and indulge in your savory, comforting mason jar pho.

Serving the Mason Jar Pho

Once you’ve prepped your mason jars with the broth concentrate, dry, and fresh ingredients, bringing this comforting meal to life is just minutes away. Let’s dive into the finishing touches that transform your prepped mason jar into a steaming, aromatic bowl of pho.

Pouring the Hot Water

The key to activating all the flavors packed into your mason jar is the addition of hot water. Boil water in a kettle until it reaches a rolling boil. Carefully open your mason jar, avoiding the steam from the freshly boiled water, and slowly pour the hot water into the jar, leaving about an inch of space at the top. The hot water will immediately begin to mingle with the broth concentrate, releasing the rich, complex flavors of the pho.

Letting It Steep

After pouring the hot water, gently stir the contents with a fork or chopsticks, ensuring the broth concentrate dissolves completely. Seal the jar with its lid to lock in the heat and let it sit for about three to five minutes. This steeping process is crucial as it allows the dried spices and noodles to soften fully, absorbing the broth’s flavors and achieving the perfect texture. Peering through the glass, you’ll see the transformation as everything melds together into a cozy, inviting meal.

Adding Fresh Herbs and Garnishes

The final step in serving your mason jar pho is to add the fresh herbs and garnishes you’ve prepared. Remove the lid, and the aromatic steam should greet you with a preview of the meal to come. Layer in your fresh herbs—such as Thai basil, cilantro, or mint—along with any additional garnishes like bean sprouts, thinly sliced chilies, or a wedge of lime to squeeze over top. These fresh elements bring a brightness and crunch to your pho, balancing the rich broth and tender noodles. Give it one last gentle stir to combine everything, and then dive into your freshly made, steaming mason jar pho. Enjoying this dish is as simple as it is delicious, bringing a touch of homemade comfort wherever you are.

Storing and Reheating

After relishing the convenience and flavor of mason jar pho, it’s crucial to know how to properly store and reheat leftovers to maintain their freshness and taste. Thankfully, our mason jar pho makes this process straightforward, ensuring you can enjoy this delightful meal even on your busiest days.

Storing Your Mason Jar Pho

To preserve the integrity of our mason jar pho, it’s important to store the components correctly. Here’s how we do it:

  1. Broth Concentrate: If you have extra broth concentrate, pour it into an airtight container or resealable plastic bags. It keeps well in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months. This way, you have the broth ready whenever the craving strikes.
  2. Dry Ingredients: Store any unused dry ingredients, such as rice noodles and spices, in a separate, airtight container at room temperature. They will stay fresh and ready to use for your next mason jar pho creation.
  3. Assembled Mason Jar Pho: If you’ve already assembled your mason jar pho but plan to enjoy it later, simply tighten the lid and store it in the refrigerator. Consume within two days for the best experience. Remember, fresh garnishes like herbs and lime wedges should be added right before serving to ensure they remain vibrant and crisp.

Reheating Your Mason Jar Pho

Reheating your mason jar pho ensures a steaming-hot, aromatic experience, just like it was freshly made. Here’s our go-to method:

  1. From the Fridge: Take your assembled mason jar pho out of the fridge and remove the lid. If you’re working with frozen broth concentrate, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or use the microwave’s defrost setting for a quick thaw. Pour the thawed broth into a saucepan and gently heat it until it’s steaming but not boiling.
  2. Pour and Serve: Once your broth is hot, carefully pour it into the mason jar over the dry ingredients, leaving space for it to expand. Secure the lid tightly, give it a good shake to mix everything, and then let it sit for about five minutes. This allows the noodles to soften and the flavors to meld together harmoniously.
  3. After waiting, carefully remove the lid, stir in any additional toppings like fresh herbs or lime wedges, and enjoy your delicious, revitalized mason jar pho. It’s that simple and tasty!

Customizing Your Mason Jar Pho

After mastering the basic build of mason jar pho, we’re excited to share how you can tailor it to fit your diet or craving. Whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian, or vegan, consider this section your guide to mixing and matching ingredients for a perfect pho experience every time.

Vegetarian and Vegan Variations

Turning our mason jar pho into a vegetarian or vegan delight is simpler than you might think. Replace the traditional beef or chicken broth with a rich vegetable broth. For depth, simmer your broth with roasted onions, garlic, ginger, and spices like star anise, cloves, and cinnamon before concentrating it for your jar. Instead of meat, pack your jars with tofu cubes, mushrooms, and hearty vegetables like broccoli or bell peppers. These not only add substance but also soak up the flavors of the broth beautifully, creating a satisfying meal that’s both nourishing and delicious.

Additional Toppings and Flavors

To elevate your mason jar pho further, explore the endless possibilities with toppings and additional flavors. Fresh herbs like cilantro, Thai basil, or mint add a burst of freshness with every bite. Bean sprouts introduce a crunchy texture, while a squeeze of lime offers a zing that brightens the whole dish. If you’re a fan of heat, thinly sliced jalapeños or a dollop of chili sauce can kick things up a notch.

For an unconventional twist, consider adding unconventional ingredients such as avocado slices for creaminess or a soft-boiled egg for richness. The beauty of mason jar pho lies in its versatility. Feel free to get creative and experiment with flavors and toppings that appeal to your palate. The goal is to enjoy a comforting, personalized pho experience that’s as unique as you are.

Conclusion

We’ve walked through the simplicity and versatility of mason jar pho, showing how it can be a game-changer for quick, nutritious meals. By embracing the ease of assembly and the joy of customizing our own jars, we’ve unlocked a world where delicious, comforting pho can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. Let’s keep experimenting with different ingredients and flavors, making each jar uniquely ours. Here’s to many more warm, flavorful moments with our mason jar pho.

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