Classic Vietnamese pho is based on a slow-cooked beef stock, one that takes beef bones and lots of simmering. This easy rendition relies on good boxed stock, quickly infused with star anise, cinnamon and other pho flavors that add fragrant notes. You can opt for making the soup in each bowl, or making one big pot of soup and ladling it over noodles, whatever is more convenient for you.
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 3 slices fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 8 cups chicken broth, 2 boxes
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
- 4 small baby bok choy, cut in 2 inch pieces
- 16 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 4 ounces rice noodles, flat
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- 1 8-ounce package baked tofu, sliced
- 2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed
- 4 large scallion, sliced on a diagonal
- 2 large limes, halved and sliced
- In a 2 quart pot, heat the oil over medium high heat, then saute the ginger and garlic just until fragrant, about a minute. Add the stock, anise, cinnamon, peppercorns and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer and lower heat to keep it at a gentle bubble. Cook for 20 minutes. The stock will reduce to about 7 cups.
- While the stock takes on flavor, prepare the garnishes. Chop the bok choy, prep the shrimp, and have all the vegetables in separate piles on a plate. Cook the noodles, and divide them between six wide soup bowls.Arrange the tofu and bean sprouts on top of the noodles.
- When the stock is ready, strain it, taste for salt-adding more fish sauce if you think it needs it, and bring it to a boil. At serving,simmer shrimp, bok choy and carrot in the stock until cooked, about 3 minutes, then ladle the hot soup over the noodles, tofu and sprouts.
Serve piled with scallion and lime wedges on the side. If desired, you can cook the shrimp, bok choy and carrot in the simmering stock and serve the soup from a communal pot, ladling it over the rice noodles and tofu in each bowl and garnishing with scallions.