Pho is one of my favorite meals but it takes so long to make a good broth. The broth makes the pho and it can take anywhere from 6 hours to a full day to get a rich broth with layers of flavors. It’s so time consuming to make. We typically only make it on the weekend when I have free time to watch over the broth. But I crave it on the weeknights too. Especially after a long day of work, all I want is to come home, sit down and eat.
Then one day, I open Snapchat and my sister has snapped her bowl of crockpot pho. What the HELL?! Pho-King Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of this before.
This is going to be so easy. You can cook the broth in a crockpot overnight or while you are at work.
Servings: 4 bowls
6.5 Quart Crockpot
1 ½ lbs beef bones, beef ribs, and/or oxtail
beef tendon (optional)
pho bouillon cubes (optional)
3 tablespoon fish sauce
¼ cup oyster sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rock sugar
1 large charred yellow onion
1 knob ginger, sliced
prepackaged pho spice mix
or make your own
6-8 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
3 black cardamom pods
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 whole cloves
thinly sliced beef
Prep: The key to a good broth is the bone being used. I like bones that have marrow as the fat will give the soup more flavor and thicken the broth. It helps created a rich broth but can be somewhat fatty. You can strain and remove the fat and marrow before serving. I also like to mix in oxtail to help layer the flavors. If you prefer a broth that is not as rich or fatty, look for bones with no marrow and more meat. I don’t have any oxtail on hand and will be substituting with beef tendon instead.
Clean: First, wash and rinse bones/oxtail/tendon in hot water. If you have time, parboil the bones/oxtail/tendon first before placing in the crockpot. This will help with the clarity of the soup. I was short on time and only rinsed with water and drained.
Note: I added beef balls to the broth but I would suggest not doing that. The beef balls were overcooked after simmering for 10 hours. The beef balls are precooked. Add to broth to heat them up right before serving.
Spices: Char the onion in the oven on broil (optional). While the onion is charring, toast the spices in a pan until fragrant if you are making your own. This is also optional but I find my broth is more fragrant if the spices are toasted first.
Once toasted, add spices to a spice bag or large metal spice ball (it looks like a big tea strainer ball).
If you prefer a premix package here are a few options. I like all three.
Broth: Add the bones/oxtails/tendon to your crockpot. Add the onion, spices, and remaining pho broth ingredients into your crockpot. I also like to add pho boullion cubes.
Fill the crockpot with water but leave some room so the broth does not boil.
Simmer: Set to low for 8-10 hours and walk away.
Skim and Strain: If you have simmered overnight, remove the ceramic insert and take out the bones, onions, and spice packet. Place ceramic insert in the fridge while you are at work. The fat will congeal once the broth cools and makes it easy to remove the excess fat. Reheat pho broth before serving.
I decided to let the broth simmer while I was at work instead. Once I got home, my house smelled of yummy pho. Discard bones, spices, and onion. Skim excess fat from the top of the broth using a fine mesh strainer or strain the broth through a cheesecloth and return broth to crockpot.
Assemble: Please use pho noodles! It’s not pho without a good broth and pho noodles. Look for dry pho noodles or fresh pho noodles. If you use dry pho noodles, soak in warm water to rehydrate before using. We prefer the fresh noodles. Whatever kind you decide to use will work but USE PHO NOODLES!
Rinse the noodles and blanch for a few seconds in the broth with a mesh strainer to soften the noodles. Add noodles to the bowls.
Lay slices of raw beef (the hot broth will cook the beef) and beef balls on top of the noodles. If you prefer your beef more cook, blanch it in the soup broth with a mesh strainer. Ladle broth over the beef and noodles.
Garnish: Top with the garnishes of your choice. We prefer Thai basil leaves, squeeze of lime wedge, green onions, sliced onion, chilies, and bean sprouts. Season with Hoisin and Sriracha to taste. Also, mix hoisin and Sriracha on the side as a dipping sauce for the meats.
How easy was that!