Chef Dylan has been walking us through the EVERYDAY cookbook with Alton Brown. He shares what makes the recipe great, what he changes, and tips for the everyday cook.
Pho (pronounced fa, don’t get it twisted) is a dish I’ve really come to enjoy over the last few years.
For starters it’s pasta and nobody’s mad about pasta.
In this specific instance not even those with gluten intolerance (read celiacs disease) because pho uses rice noodles; completely gluten-free.
As if that wasn’t enough, it’s more or less Vietnamese ramen (this is not meant to discredit pho or it’s cultural heritage in any way shape or form, just any easy comparison to draw) but way easier to prepare.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of pho, from a western perspective that is, is that traditionally pho is a breakfast staple.
Pho is to them what breakfast cereal is to us.
That makes it not only pasta but pasta for breakfast, and if you’ve got a problem with that then I don’t know how to help you.
Does Pho Bo Take FOREVER To Make?
The most time-intensive part of pho is the broth.
Unlike Ramen, most of the other components don’t require any extra work and are flavored by soaking in the broth while serving.
So once you’ve got that broth set put the top down and enjoy the ride because it’s smooth cruising to Flavor Town.
If you happen to own an instant pot or a pressure cooker that ride will be even faster.
Do I Have To Use a Pressure Cooker?
Speaking of pressure cookers, this recipe specifically calls for one but it is not necessary.
You can make your broth the traditional way and it will come out just as tasty.
As I had mentioned the pressure cooker does nothing other than speed up the process.
How to Make Pho Bo Better
Which brings me to my first point on this recipe.
For making the scratch broth here Alton Brown (AB) says to pressure cook it for 30 minutes. I gave the 30 minutes a shot and did not find it satisfactory.
It would make a passable I’m-in-a-hurry-and-need-something-now broth but in my opinion, did not give the bones enough time to break down and release all their natural goodness.
I gave it another 30-45 minutes and found it much better.
It is my opinion that you would be much better served cooking this broth the day before so it’s ready to roll first thing in the morning.
Plus that makes one less step before your morning brew kicks in.
Broth Done, Now Its Easy Street
The beauty of this recipe, and pho in general, is that once your broth is done you’re ready to eat.
This may vary a little based on your toppings of choice, but for this recipe and most standard recipes, there is no additional cooking.
The ingredients, in the case of the vegetables, are raw and in the case of the meat is sliced incredibly thin.
This allows the meat to cook in the piping hot broth upon serving while simultaneously warming the other toppings and rice noodles.
On the topic of rice noodles, while this recipe does provide instructions on preparing them, always consult the package they came in for cooking directions.
Mine did not work with the recipe instructions and required a little extra work on my end to soften them up.
My Final Thought on Pho Bo
Outside of that simple critique, which I adjusted for, this pho turned out great.
It’s a delicious, mostly quick, and easy introductory recipe into the wonderful world of pho and Vietnamese cooking.
One last bit of advice, to paraphrase a friend who is about as into pho as I am to ramen, “needs more lime.” Doesn’t matter if you think you have enough, it needs more.
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