Vietnamese Short Rib Pho: A Guide to Crafting the Perfect Bowl

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine a bowl of Vietnamese Short Rib Pho steaming before you, its rich broth fragrant with spices and herbs, the tender short ribs practically melting in your mouth. This isn’t just any soup; it’s a culinary journey to the heart of Vietnam, where Pho is not just food but a cherished tradition. Originating in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam, Pho has traversed borders and won hearts globally with its complex flavors and comforting warmth.

Preparing this dish might seem like a day’s work, but it’s surprisingly straightforward, and the results are worth every minute. As you simmer the broth, infused with star anise, cinnamon, and cardamom, your kitchen will fill with aromas that transport you straight to the bustling streets of Hanoi. Ready to dive into the art of making authentic Vietnamese Short Rib Pho? Let’s get started on this delightful culinary adventure.

Ingredients

For a truly authentic Vietnamese Short Rib Pho experience, gather the following fresh and fragrant ingredients to create a dish that transports you straight to the bustling streets of Hanoi.

For the Broth

  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 large onions, peeled and halved
  • 4-inch piece of ginger, halved lengthwise
  • 5 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 0.25 pound beef bones (optional for richer flavor)

For the Short Ribs

  • 2 pounds beef short ribs
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 pound rice noodles, soaked in warm water until soft and then drained
  • Fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, mint), roughly chopped
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
  • Bean sprouts
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha sauce

Required Tools and Equipment

Creating authentic Vietnamese Short Rib Pho is as much about the process as it is about the ingredients. To ensure your cooking experience is smooth and successful, having the right tools and equipment is key. Here, you’ll find a detailed list of what you need to prepare this delightful dish.

Large Stockpot

First, you’ll need a large stockpot. Pho broth requires simmering for several hours, which means a pot with a minimum capacity of 6 quarts is essential. This will accommodate the short ribs, spices, and the volume of water necessary without overcrowding.

Fine-Mesh Strainer

A fine-mesh strainer is crucial for achieving the clear, debris-free broth that Pho is famous for. You’ll use it to strain the broth after it has simmered to remove solids, leaving you with just the flavorful liquid.

Spice Bag or Infuser

To infuse your broth with spices without leaving residues, a spice bag or a metal infuser is handy. This tool allows the flavors to seep into the broth while making it easy to remove the spices once their job is done.

Ladle

A ladle will help you transfer broth to bowls and add ingredients systematically. Opt for a large, deep ladle to scoop up broth and pieces of short rib effortlessly.

Sharp Chef’s Knife

For prepping your short ribs and slicing garnishes finely, a sharp chef’s knife is indispensable. Ensure it’s well-honed to handle everything from chopping herbs finely to slicing meat cleanly.

Cutting Board

Choose a sturdy cutting board for slicing ingredients and prepping your meat. A good-sized board will provide ample space for all your chopping needs and help keep your kitchen clean.

Pho Bowls

Invest in large bowls specifically designed for serving Pho. These bowls should be wide and deep enough to hold a generous serving of broth, noodles, ribs, and garnishes.

Chopsticks and Soup Spoons

Lastly, to enjoy Pho in true Vietnamese fashion, provide chopsticks and soup spoons for each diner. The chopsticks are perfect for manipulating the noodles and meat, while the spoon is for the savory broth.

Preparations

Embark on your culinary adventure to northern Vietnam by preparing the key components of your Vietnamese Short Rib Pho. Follow these steps to ensure your dish captures the authentic flavors and aromas.

Marinating the Short Ribs

Firstly, gather your short ribs—this will be the star ingredient. You’ll need:

  • 2 pounds of beef short ribs, preferably bone-in for enhanced flavor
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated

Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger in a bowl to create your marinade. Place the short ribs in a large resealable bag or a shallow dish, then pour the marinade over the ribs, making sure they’re well-coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate and allow the ribs to marinate for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight, turning them occasionally to ensure even flavor absorption. This marination step infuses the ribs with deep, savory flavors that will permeate the broth during cooking.

Toasting Spices

Next, prepare the spices that will define the broth’s intricate flavor profile:

  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional for a smokier aroma)

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add all the spices to the dry skillet and toast them for about 2-3 minutes, or until they become fragrant and slightly darker in color, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Toasting the spices releases their essential oils and enhances their flavors, setting the foundation for a broth with depth and warm undertones. Once toasted, transfer them to a spice bag or infuser to be added to the broth. This method keeps the spices contained, making them easy to remove after cooking and ensuring your broth remains clear and free of debris.

Cooking Instructions

Now that you’ve marinated the short ribs and toasted the spices, it’s time to bring everything together to craft your delicious Vietnamese Short Rib Pho.

Cooking the Short Ribs

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Place the marinated short ribs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they are spaced evenly.
  3. Roast the ribs in the preheated oven for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until they are tender and easily pull away from the bone. Occasionally, baste the ribs with the marinade juices to keep them moist and flavorful.
  4. Once cooked, remove the ribs from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes before slicing them thinly. Set aside.

Preparing the Broth

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the toasted spices, 2 halved onions, one 4-inch piece of ginger sliced, and 4 cloves of garlic.
  2. Lower the short ribs into the boiling water. Then, reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  3. Allow the broth to simmer uncovered for about 2 to 3 hours. The goal is to extract the rich flavors from the bones and spices.
  4. Skim off any foam or excess fat that rises to the top to ensure the broth remains clear.
  5. Once the desired richness is achieved, strain the broth to remove solids. Season with salt and fish sauce to taste for a perfect balance of flavors.
  1. Soak 400 grams of rice noodles in warm water until they’re soft, about 20 minutes, then drain.
  2. While the noodles soak, bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the softened noodles for about 30 seconds to a minute, then divide them into bowls.
  3. Arrange slices of cooked short ribs over the noodles.
  4. Bring the strained broth to a simmer and then ladle it hot over the ribs and noodles.
  5. Garnish with thinly sliced onions, chopped scallions, fresh cilantro, and basil leaves. Add a squeeze of lime, a few slices of chili, and bean sprouts for extra freshness and a crunch.
  6. Serve hot, allowing each person to further tailor their Pho with hoisin sauce and sriracha for added depth and spice.

Serving Suggestions

After creating your rich and aromatic Vietnamese Short Rib Pho, it’s time to serve it in a way that complements its depth of flavors and cultural essence. Here are some suggestions to enhance your dining experience:

  • Bowl Assembly: Start by placing a generous amount of cooked rice noodles at the bottom of a deep bowl. Lay the succulent short ribs on top, and then ladle the hot broth over the noodles and meat to warm everything thoroughly.
  • Garnishes for Freshness and Crunch: Offer a plate of fresh herbs and vegetables to your guests. Include Thai basil, cilantro, sliced green onions, bean sprouts, and sliced jalapeños. This not only adds a crisp texture but also allows each person to tailor the flavors to their liking.
  • Additional Seasonings: Place small dishes of hoisin sauce, sriracha, and fish sauce on the table. Each diner can adjust the sweetness, heat, and umami of their pho according to their preferences. A squeeze of lime adds a perfect zing.
  • Traditional Sides: Serve your pho with other Vietnamese classics such as spring rolls or bánh mì to round out the meal.
  • Drink Pairings: Complement your pho with a cup of Vietnamese iced coffee or hot green tea. These beverages balance the robust flavors of the pho and refresh the palate.

Each element serves to transform your Vietnamese Short Rib Pho into a full, interactive dining experience, capturing the vibrancy and communal aspect of Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy your meal surrounded by friends and family for a truly authentic encounter.

Make-Ahead Tips

Preparing Vietnamese Short Rib Pho can be a delightful but time-consuming process. To help you streamline the cooking experience without sacrificing the authenticity and depth of flavor, here are some practical make-ahead tips:

Preparing the Short Ribs

Marinate the short ribs up to 24 hours in advance. This not only saves time on the day of serving but also enhances the flavor of the ribs as they absorb the marinade. Keep the marinated ribs in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook them.

Toasting and Grinding the Spices

The aroma of freshly toasted spices is key to an authentic Pho. You can toast spices like star anise, cinnamon sticks, and cloves ahead of time. Once cooled, grind them and store in a tightly sealed jar. This will keep the spices fresh and ready to use, cutting down on preparation time.

Preparing the Broth

One of the secrets to a great Pho is the broth. Prepare your broth a day ahead, as this allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. After cooking, let it cool, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, simply skim off any fat that has risen to the top for a clearer broth. Reheat gently when ready to serve.

Chopping Herbs and Garnishes

Wash and chop herbs like cilantro and Thai basil, as well as prepare other garnishes such as lime wedges and sliced onions the night before. Store them in separate containers in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. This reduces final cooking time and keeps everything ready for quick assembly.

Soaking the Rice Noodles

Rice noodles can be pre-soaked a few hours before serving. Once they are soft, drain and set aside. This prevents overcooking the noodles during final preparation and keeps them perfectly chewy.

By following these make-ahead tips, you ensure a smoother cooking process and more time to enjoy the comforting flavors of your Vietnamese Short Rib Pho with friends and family.

Conclusion

Diving into the world of Vietnamese Short Rib Pho is more than just preparing a meal—it’s an adventure in your kitchen that brings a piece of Vietnamese culture to your table. With the steps you’ve learned you’re well-equipped to turn this culinary challenge into a delightful experience. Whether you’re cooking for a special occasion or a regular family dinner remember that every spoonful of pho promises a burst of flavors that are worth every bit of effort. So gather your ingredients roll up your sleeves and get ready to impress with a dish that’s as nourishing as it is comforting. Enjoy the journey of making your own Vietnamese Short Rib Pho and the joy it brings to those who share it with you.

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