Friday 17 December 2010


Pho Bo Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup/Vietnamesiske Nudlersuppe med Oksekød/越式牛肉汤面 [Yuè shì niú ròu tāng miàn]

The Pho beef noodle soup I made today

Serves 4

Preparation & Cooking Time: 1.5 hour (for pressure cooker) or 4 hours for normal cooking


The broth:

- 500g beef bones
- 2 beef shanks (Osso bucco)
- 500g beef tenderloin, cut in thin slices
- 2 onions, halved, unpeeled
- 1 clove garlic, unpeeled
- 4” ginger, halved length wise, unpeeled
- 5 star anise
- 5 cloves
- 1 cardamom
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 TBS fennel seeds
- 1 TBS of coriander pods (optional)
- 3 litres of water
- 1 tsp sugar (optional)
- 1 tsp cooking oil (to char the ginger and onions)

The raw beef:
- 400g beef tenderloin, cut in thin slices (easier to cut if it is slightly frozen)

The rice noodles:
- 400g dried rice noodles/sticks
- Enough water to cover and boil the noodles
- Dash of salt

The soup bowl:
- A handful of cooked rice noodles
- 1 handful mung bean sprouts
- 5-8 slices of raw beef
- 2 stalk of spring onions, chopped
- 1 piece of lime cut
- 2-3 slices of chilli (optional)
- 1 handful of mint leaves (optional)
- 1 handful of cilantro (optional)
- 2 tsp fish sauce (optional)

1. Put the beef tenderloin in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. In this way they will be cold and it would be easier to slice them thinly when you take them out.

2. Char the ginger and onions on a pan on the stove.

3. To make the broth, in the pressure cooker, add water, ginger, onions, the spices, bones, beef shanks and cook for 30 minutes after the pressure cooker has reached pressure. (To save energy, if you are using electric stove, you can turn off the heat 10 minutes before and just let the pressure cooker sits on the stove until it reaches 30 minutes. ) If you are using an ordinary pot, simmer under low fire for 3 hours.

4. To prepare the noodles, bring to boil water sufficiently to cover the noodles, add noodles and salt and wait for 3 minutes. Thereafter, strain off water and set aside.

5. Take out the beef tenderloin from the freezer and cut them into thin slices.

6. Line your soup bowls beside the stove and fill half of each bowl with rice noodles, mung bean sprouts, slices of raw beef, spring onions and chilli.

7. While lining your soup bowls, bring to boil the broth and pour 2-3 ladles of soup into the soup bowl. The hot broth will cook the raw beef slices.

8. Serve immediately and garnish with cilantro and mint leaves if desired.

1. If you make with beef shanks using the pressure cooker, it will be very tender, and you can scoop some of it into the bowl with the noodles.

2. I like to add a teaspoon of garlic oil into the noodle soup, as it gives it a nice fragrant.

3. If the amount of work looks overwhelming to you, you don't have to make the preparation all at one go. You can also cook the beef broth in an automatic electric cooker overnight.

4. If you have a toddler who doesn't like beef, you can scoop out some of the broth and add cod fish and serve the soup and the cod fish with the rice noodles.

Nutritional Value:
The 5 spices used in this soup is very beneficial for health. The star anise seeds are an excellent source of many essential B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin. Pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) helps increase GABA neuro-chemical levels in the brain.
The spicy seeds are great source of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, potassium, manganese zinc and magnesium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. The star anise is also contain good amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A.

Fennel seeds are concentrated source of minerals like copper, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation. Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful anti-oxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.

The seeds indeed are storehouse for many vital vitamins. Vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C as well as many B-complex vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and niacin particularly are concentrated in the fennel seeds.

Fennel seeds have many health benefiting volatile essential oil compounds such as anethole, limonene, anisic aldehyde, pinene, myrcene, fenchone, chavicol, and cineole. These active principles in the fennel seeds are known to have antioxidant, digestive, carminative and anti-flatulent properties.

Fennel seeds are rich source of dietary fiber. 100 g seeds provide 39.8 g of fiber. Much of this fiber is metabolically inert insoluble fiber which helps increase bulk of the food by absorbing water throughout the digestive system and easing constipation condition.

In addition, dietary fibers bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in colon, thus help lower serum LDL cholesterol levels. Together with flavonoid anti-oxidants, fiber composition of fennel helps protect the colon mucus membrane from cancers.

Fennel seeds indeed contain numerous flavonoid anti-oxidants like kaempferol and quercetin. These compounds are indeed function as powerful anti-oxidants by removing harmful free radicals from the body thus protect from cancers, infection, aging and degenerative neurological diseases.

Cloves are an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of calcium and magnesium.

Cinnamon is an excellent source of manganese and a very good source of dietary fiber, calcium and iron.

Seasoning a high carb food with cinnamon can help lessen its impact on your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating. It is also helpful in lessening inflammation.

Additional Information:
It is winter time now with heavy snow fall today... makes me crave for a hot bowl of noodle soup to keep warm.
I normally don't like food containing five-spice as I find the flavour too domineering, although the five-spices are believed to have a lot of health benefits. However, somehow five-spice just fit so well in Vietnamese beef noodle soup. It enhances the flavour rather than overpowering it.

My Significant Other normally doesn't like noodle soup, but this is the only exception. J loves the noodle soup, but he doesn't like beef so much, so I added cod fish, which is easier to eat, to his bowl of pho noodle soup instead. The cod fish also enhances the soup.

The best pho bo noodles I have ever tasted was in Paris' Chinatown. My parents came to visit me in Copenhagen for the first time in 2005 and we went for a trip to Paris. My father had a bowl of the pho bo noodles and fell in love with it. He was back in Copenhagen last year when J was born, and was looking around for the Vietnamese pho bo noodles soup. But there are very few Vietnamese restaurants in Copenhagen, and none near our place. None of the Vietnamese restaurants in Copenhagen serve pho bo as good as the one we tried in Paris. This year, we were back in Paris with my Significant Other and J, and it was the first noodle soup that my Significant Other gives a thumb up. Next year, when my parents visit me, I will be able to make my father his favourite pho bo beef noodle soup myself :-)



The Pho beef noodle soup we had this year in Paris

This is the Pho beef noodle soup my parents had in 2005 in Paris

This is how the restaurant looks like in Paris' Chinatown

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