Quick Beef Pho Recipe with Quoc Viet Foods' Pho Soup Base

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Quoc Viet Foods logoUpdated 05-16-15. There's nothing like enjoying a bowl of pho at your favorite pho shop with your pho companions. But there are times, for various reasons, you'd like to make pho yourself at home.

Most good pho recipes like Andrea Nguyen's or Didier Corlou's call for cooking the bone and meat in broth for up to 2.5 to 3 hours. Other recipes call for even longer simmering. Adding other preparation time, including the time to bring water to boil, drain and reboil, and you're looking at maybe 4-5 hours total cook time at least. So for those who want to take a shortcut and shave off a few hours, try the Quoc Viet Foods Beef Flavored "Pho" Soup Base option.

Looking for easy to follow beef pho recipe? Go here for the latest Beef Pho Recipe infographic.

 

Disclosure: I'm neither associated with Quoc Viet nor am I sponsored in any way by the company for any article on LovingPho.com.
Quoc Viet Foods makes shelf storable soup bases, seasonings, coffee and tea. When it comes to authenticity, it's always a challenge to find ready-made food products, including Vietnamese pho. Yet Quoc Viet seems to achieve the impossible for pho, that is to "convert the traditional Vietnamese products into a convenient form" while maintaining the flavor expected of such product. This means for those who never made pho or tasted pho, they can now get very close to the real thing, easily.

You can read more about my other post on Quoc Viet Foods. But enough about the company. Let's get to the goodness of their Beef Flavored "Pho" Soup Base.

The package comes in a compact round plastic container. The wraparound label clearly describes the content and includes an ingredient list, nutrition information and cooking directions in English, Viet and Chinese. While the nutrition info states that there are 32 servings per container, the cooking directions indicate it makes 20 bowls. Confusing, but still very nice! At a price of US$ 6.99 per container, I'm paying US$ 0.35 for the broth in each of my pho bowls, excluding a few other ingredients of course.

Inside the container are the powdered soup base with marrow, and 2 bags of spices. The soup base is the key part of the pho broth and is essentially your "instant" bone/bone marrow solution that you didn't have to cook for 2-3 hours. It also packs plenty of beef fats which you can skim off at serving time if you wish, but I wouldn't do that. It's the good stuff.

The spice bags are your normal star anise, cinnamon, and various other spices. What's awesome about the soup base/spice bag combination is they give you all you need for the broth, including all seasonings that you need-I added some fish sauce but it's really not required. The only other things you'll need are the ginger and onion which should be charred or grilled before use in the broth, and the meat.

Quoc Viet Beef Soup Base

Quoc Viet Foods Beef Soup Base

Quoc Viet Beef Soup Base nutrition facts

Quoc Viet Foods Beef Soup Base
Nutrition Facts

Quoc Viet Foods Beef Soup Base cooking directions

Quoc Viet Foods Beef Soup Base Cooking Directions

Quoc Viet Foods Beef Soup Base package content

Quoc Viet Foods Beef Soup Base Package Content

The direction is very easy to follow. You'll have to buy your preferred meat to cook, but this whole process entirely does away with having to buy the bone/oxtail and cooking them to get to the marrow, and to purchase the spices separately. For my broth I bought 2.8 pounds of beef flank, a piece of ginger and a medium size onion. The required ingredients list and cooking directions can be viewed from the photos above, but here's a recap which is better to follow:

REQUIRED INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 lbs, beef flank or brisket, cut into 4-5 inch pieces for better cooking,
  • 1 lb, beef tendon*,
  • 1 bulb, onion,
  • 2 pieces, ginger.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Blanch meats for 15 minutes. Discard dirty water and rinse meats.
  • (Step not in package direction): Char or grill the onion and ginger pieces. I cut my onion in half, but it's your choice to do so or not. You can char over open flame or broil in your oven. It's okay to char (let burned or blackened) the outside a little bit.
  • Put meat pieces in a large pot and add enough water to cover them. Boil at medium flame for 1 hour. Add onion, ginger about half way through.
  • After about 1 hour, add spice bags and content of soup base. Do not tear spice filter bags.
  • After 15 minutes, remove spice bags. Boil at medium flame until meats are softened. Note: you can leave spice bags in longer for more pho flavor, and remove when you think ready.
  • Remove meats, onion and ginger pieces.
  • Adjust water to 2 gallons or to taste.
  • Bring to boil and serve.

* The meats and tendon are optional, or you can also substitute/add tripe, meatballs, etc. depending on your preference, just as you would order in a restaurant. See my "Tips on Ordering Pho Your Way."

Quoc Viet beef soup base cooking potFor me I ended up with so much broth that I had to divide into 3 smaller containers, put 2 in the freezer and enjoy the third portion over a few days. Again the key was the soup base which is all inclusive. There are no seasonings required as the soup base is super concentrated, and you can add water to adjust to taste.

My total cooking time was about 3 hours, but that's just me because making and eating pho is a religion for me 😉 so I took my time. For others who just want to get quickly to a nice steaming bowl of pho with chopsticks and spoon in hands, you can probably do it in 1.5 hours or less. The determining factor will be how tender you want the cooked meat to be.

To speed up cooking time even more, an alternative is to cut smaller pieces of beef (hence cutting down cooking time further) and/or use pre-cooked meatballs instead. The latter option means that you wouldn't be cooking any meat in the broth at all, as you depend totally on the soup base for the flavors. By the way, for those unfamiliar with meatballs, you don't cook them in the broth for the whole duration. Just heat them in the broth just before serving.

Finally I rate my pho broth creation using Quoc Viet  Foods' Beef Flavored Pho Soup Base as follows:

  • Quality and taste: 8/10.
  • Convenience: 10/10.
  • Affordability: 10/10.
  • Total value (quality & affordability): 9/10.

You can find this and other Quoc Viet products in many Viet and Chinese food markets in the 50 U.S. states, Denmark, Canada and Japan. Quoc Viet's website indicates their products include

  1. Chicken Flavored "Pho" Soup Base
  2. Beef Flavored "Pho" Soup Base
  3. Beef Stew Seasoning
  4. "Hue" Style Beef Flavored Soup Base
  5. Chicken Flavored Soup Base
  6. Pork Flavored "Hu Tieu" Soup Base
  7. Pork Flavored Soup Base
  8. Tamarind Soup Base
  9. Vegetarian Soup Base
  10. Crab Flavored Soup Base
  11. Thai Tom Yum Soup Base

Unfortunately Quoc Viet is a wholesaler and does not sell directly to consumers over the Internet. The company is also very active at local demos, festivals, and charity fund drives, so if you're lucky you can catch them in action serving pho to hungry pho fans at these events.

95 comments

  1. Joel 13 May, 2010 at 16:22

    Thank You so much!!! ive been a huge fan of pho for a while and always found the process of making it for myself too overwhelming. This helped me out immensely! Should i cut up my ginger into pieces?

  2. Cuong Huynh 13 May, 2010 at 16:47

    Hi Joel: There are several ways to char the ginger. Some people will cut it in half length-wise to get more of its surface to char. Others char it whole. Still others peel its skin before charring. I would say take your pick, but personally I cut the ginger in half after peeling. This gives me better flavors due to larger charring surface.

  3. Orlando 5 January, 2011 at 08:44

    Joel,

    I’ve been an asian noodle fan since I was a kid and can’t get enough. I only go for the authentic stuff and find the stepped on versions a big disappointment. I’ve been looking for a good soup base and purchased this one a few months ago. After much research in making PHO the long way I have a couple of questions about this soup base. Should I use the whole container and and freeze the rest for later? How should I portion the container so I’m not wasting?

  4. Cuong 5 January, 2011 at 13:29

    Hi Orlando: Brian at Quoc Viet told me that the soup base is stable at room temperature for storage purpose. Even if you opened the container to use just a portion of the powder, the rest can be closed up and stored away in your pantry for months (I have to look at my notes to see if it was 9 months or something else that he said.) Of course you can throw it in your fridge too, no harm doing that.

  5. sanghuynh 7 January, 2011 at 11:25

    Hi Cuong, I would like 2 know that these soupbase contain any MSG ? I heard on youtube ppl said that these soupbases are no good b.cause they have so much sodium and MSG. Thanks

  6. Cuong 9 January, 2011 at 17:07

    Hi SangHuynh: Can you provide a link to the YouTube page you mentioned? I’d like to check it out myself. With respect to the Quoc Viet soup base which is what this article is about, I think it does have large amount of sodium, as are many many other processed foods. If anyone has ever enjoyed restaurant foods, any restaurant foods, I think he/she should expect a large amount of sodium and/or MSG in the food as well. I do admit though, many of them are great tasting 😉 In all seriousness, I would say if you are allergic to MSG then preparing your own food is the best way to go.

    Here’s a post on MSG where a number of culinary professionals pitched in their own take on MSG, Vietnamese Pho With No Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)? Sure You Want It That Way? For me moderation is my rule for consuming MSG.

    Finally, you can also contact the product manufacturer directly.

  7. Severus Snape 1 August, 2011 at 16:40

    Hey all, I actually found this product at Amazon.com. 4 cans for $28.50 plus shipping. It took me all of 45 sec to order, I love Pho. I might look for it locally later, but after reading the article, wanted a quick way to get it.

  8. Cuong 12 August, 2011 at 22:25

    Hi Severus Snape: If I’m not mistaken, Quoc Viet products are not sold on Amazon.com. Maybe you’re thinking of something else? There is a competing product, but I do not have experience with it.

  9. Severus Snape 16 August, 2011 at 18:55

    Hello Cuong, I just double checked my invoice. I ordered through Amazon and it was Quoc Viet brand. The invoice was from Quoc Viet, not a retailer. They must be using Amazon to sell there product. Anyway I cooked my first batch last weekend, and it was great.

  10. Cuong 21 August, 2011 at 08:56

    Hi Severus Snape: that’s very interesting. My own source told me they don’t do that but maybe they do now. I can see it on amazon.com as a 4-pack. Good that Quoc Viet is branching out. In my opinion they are a little weak on the marketing side.

  11. Cuong 16 October, 2011 at 21:00

    Hi Me: Sure you can reuse the spice bags but you’ll probably get nothing much out of it after the first use. It’s like your bag of tea, one time use if all you can get out of it.

  12. Joe 11 December, 2011 at 20:57

    Hello,

    I prefer Pho Tai and don’t care for the flank/brisket. Would it be possible to skip adding the brisket to the base when cooking or would I lose out on a lot of flavor?

  13. Cuong 21 December, 2011 at 09:38

    Hi Joe,

    The bones, brisket and flank are essential for the beef flavor in the broth. While Quoc Viet has done a great job saving you from having to cook the bones, brisket and flank are still require to give you the rich taste. Now you can substitute more flank or more brisket in place of the other, but I would not recommend foregoing them altogether. The base itself can only give you marginal broth quality, but you may still try the soup base by itself just to know. My guess is it may be better than many restaurant broths I’ve tasted, but really it’s half of what a real pho broth should be. Let us know what and how you did.

  14. Long 15 January, 2012 at 15:43

    I just tried the Quoc Viet base for the first time today. Not only did use beef chuck (couldn’t find brisket and flank at my local grocery store), I also bought a small amount of beef ribs to throw in the pot for extra depth of flavor. It came out GREAT! It was really good. I’m pretty particular about my pho. My mom’s pho was the best. It wasn’t like my mom’s but it certainly tasted homemade and was as authentic as can be.

    For those who want a little more star anise flavor (which I love in pho), you can also throw a little more into the pot.

  15. Cuong 15 January, 2012 at 16:04

    Hi Long: I’m glad you find it acceptable to your taste. Yeah I would say adding more of any kind of beef/beef bones should definitely help the flavor. And I agree, adding more star anise can really bring pho flavor out even more. I do this myself as well.

  16. Long 15 January, 2012 at 19:20

    The one thing that I found odd though was the fact that the Quoc Viet directions had you only use the spice packet for 15 minutes in the broth. I left it in there for about 25 minutes. And I found the broth when eating to be mild in pho aromas. I remember that my mom used to leave all the spices in the broth the entire time. So next time, I’m going to leave it in longer to see how it goes.

  17. Cuong 15 January, 2012 at 21:33

    Long: It may be odd or it may not. My take on this is QV is just practicing proper precaution, specifying what I would call a safe, reasonable amount of time. I agree with you in leaving the spices in there longer; I love my pho to be real fragrant with pho spices too. From a manufacturer’s point of view though, I can see that they know they do not have total control over what their customers do, so the safest is to recommend something “reasonable,” like 15 minutes. With QV products, they aim to serve those who may not have ever made pho themselves before. So new QV customers may not know how long to simmer spices, or they may leave them in too long resulting in a broth too pungent for average people. Anyway what they should do is suggest something like “vary amount of spice time to fit personal preferences.” If you like yours in there longer, I’d say go for it.

  18. Cuong 16 January, 2012 at 01:51

    Hi Joe: You want to use beef flank and/or brisket. Depending on where you live, you may not get the proper cut, but anything close should be fine. Vietnamese use untrimmed flank in pho, but you may find it difficult to get untrimmed flank in American supermarkets.

  19. John 21 January, 2012 at 11:01

    I’ve tried looking EVERYWHERE for this product, and I still have not luck :(
    I live in Toronto, Canada and I’ve managed to only find the cheap unsatisfying Pho soup powders.. Does anyone know where to buy these Quoc Viet products specifically in Toronto? I’m REALLY craving Pho Tai Chin Nam as we speak!

  20. Cuong 22 January, 2012 at 01:55

    Hi John: I am not sure if Quoc Viet is available in Toronto market. From what I know they do not do mail orders for retail sales. You may want to contact the company directly to find out where their products may be carried in your area. I know they may ship out products to retail customers from time to time. You can contact Alan Khoa Nguyen, Quoc Viet’s Sales at [email protected], I’m sure he can steer you in the right direction. Alternatively, you can try Quoc Viet’s Amazon storefront.

    Let us know how you fare. A should not have to suffer just because he wants some decent Pho Tai Chin Nam.

  21. Long 26 January, 2012 at 17:08

    Joe: I think you can honestly use whatever beef cuts you like. Obviously, don’t waste your money on expensive cuts like filet mignon or rib-eye. If you don’t like gristle or fat, use leaner cuts. If you like all that stuff, use cheaper, fattier cuts. I’ve even used basic baby back beef ribs for the soup stock. And the meat came out delicious! So, I cut them off the bone and added it to my bowl of pho.

  22. Blaine 28 May, 2012 at 18:30

    I just purchased my first container and cannot wait to cook up my first pho effort! I’ve read all the comments here and have a couple of questions. Cuong how long do you leave the spice packet in for? I see Long says 25 minutes worked but maybe longer next time, do you or anyone else have a perfect time? Also, any tips on charring the onion and ginger? Do you do it stovetop or use a grill? I was advised to use beef knuckle to add depth to the broth along with the brisket and tendon, any thoughts on that? Thanks so much.

  23. Cuong 28 May, 2012 at 18:54

    Hi Blaine: For the spices, I left mine in for various amounts of time, depending on my mood 😉 Sometimes 15 minutes as stated in this article, other times longer if I want a little stronger fragrance. One time I got distracted and forgot it until about 50 minutes later. No big deal, just a little stronger spice taste, no one will know. Others above may have found their own preferences. So I don’t think there is a perfect time, because each individual is different. The restaurants cook for the mass so they have to choose one time (arbitrary but to their preference) so that the broth they serve stays consistent from one day to the next. At our Ui-Cha! Pho and Ca-Phe I think we use 45 minutes.

    Charring onions and ginger is pretty easy. Either stovetop or grill or any other open flame would work. Charring in an oven at high 450°F can also work. The main thing is high temperature, dry heat, and give it enough time to burn the sides and edges. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly first. You can cut them up so they have more charred surfaces which results in more of that burnt flavor, and/or smash or crush them before going into the broth to help with the extracting of the flavors.

    With respect to beef knuckle, yes that would be nice, or better yet if you can find ox tails, then that would be even better. The bones with marrow in it will give you great pho flavors, but then you’d be defeating the purpose of using the Quoc Viet soup base, because they have the marrow in there already. The idea is QV products save you time in cooking the bones. Good luck Blaine, hope this helps.

  24. Blaine 3 June, 2012 at 10:48

    Well I made it and it was pretty damn good! I would have to rate it almost as good as my favorite restaurant, but not as deep in flavor. I did leave the spice packet in for about 45 minutes and I used a combination of ox tails and beef short ribs in making the stock. I think next time I will add additional star anise. I definately give the brand a two thumbs up!!

  25. Cuong 9 July, 2012 at 14:50

    Blaine: congrats on getting what you like. Good choice on the ox tails, but I’ve never seen short ribs! BUt a little tweaks here and there will get you what you like, your own pho recipe so to speak.

  26. Pho Broth: The Soul of Vietnamese Pho - Vietnamese Pho Noodles 25 July, 2012 at 08:35

    […] Updated 07-25-12. There are three elements that make up a bowl of Vietnamese pho: the broth, the rice noodles and the toppings (meat, garnishes, etc.) If you are a pho lover, you may be a fan of the noodles or of the way the meat, herbs and spices play together in your mouth as you slurp your pho to the last drop. There’s no denying that the pho broth is the most important element of Vietnamese pho. Pho broth is the soul of the dish. It is what makes the dish Vietnamese pho. This article on Pho Broth is both a how to make pho broth and a philosophical look at the meaning of the broth in pho. If you are looking for the nuts and bolts of making pho, please go directly to these 2 articles: Top Pho Bo and Pho Ga Recipes You Must Try Yourself and Quick Beef Pho Recipe with Quoc Viet Foods’ Pho Soup Base. […]

  27. Stephanie 25 September, 2012 at 11:48

    Hi! I’m making pho for the first time using this base and had a question. Can I just use one spice packet and half the base? If so how much water would I use? Also, it says to blanch the meat – in just water? Really I’m just concerned about how much water to add once I cover the meat – I’m using flank – and I don’t want to make it too watery. I’m cooking for 5 so I’m hoping to just use half and save some for the next time. Any more direction would be appreciated!

  28. Cuong 26 September, 2012 at 00:07

    Stephanie: Yes of course you can scale it any way you want. I think the instructions say the final quantity is about 2 gallons if you use the whole container, so if you use half container then your final stage should have water added to achieve 1 gallon total. When blanching the meat, just boil water and add your meat for 15 minutes as instructed. Some people feel that may be too long so they adjust down to 5-10 minutes. The idea is to wash off impurities outside the meat before you really simmer it for an hour or so to get the flavor out. I’d say flank would taste very nice.

    But why not just make the whole bath and put the unused broth in the freezer; pretty much standard practice to store any kind of broth or soup. Good luck with it, but you really can’t go wrong. If you don’t like the way it tastes on first trial, I am sure your second one will be much much better as you know what to do and what to expect by now.

  29. Jessica 13 May, 2013 at 17:11

    I’m making the chicken pho, Pho Ga. Anything different about using chicken over beef? This is my first go at it and read all of the beef suggestions, just would like advice if any on chicken. Thanks :)

  30. Judy 15 May, 2013 at 17:27

    I’m making the pho right now and I did buy this mix and am cooking it with bone in beef shank. I got the mix in Toronto, which I had read in the previous comment that they couldn’t find a place. It’s an Asian grocery at 1105 Wilson Ave in North York for your Canadians! :) Its simmering as we speak and smells delicious…thanks for this posting! I’ll let you know how it turns out. This is my absolute favourite soup…

  31. Cuong 15 May, 2013 at 18:24

    @Jessica: One big difference about pho ga is the chicken/chicken bones are much faster to cook than the beef/beef bones. So your cooking time will be shortened considerably when you make pho ga. Another factor is you want to make sure your spices and seasonings are used properly/less in pho ga, otherwise you will mask out all the delicate chicken flavors that you have. Whichever pho you are making, the seasoning and spices should already have been adjusted for that particular pho type in the recipe you are using. If you put the recipe side by side, for example, you may notice that pho bo has more star anise, but less cardamom, or pho ga has cinnamon whereas many pho bo recipes do not call for it. I hope this helps, and you’ll do fine. Even if your first one does not turn out that great, your next one will be much much better.

  32. Cuong 15 May, 2013 at 18:33

    @Judy: Thanks for the tip. Toronto has a large Vietnamese and Chinese community so there should be plenty of supplies from the markets there. I’ve visited Totonto myself a few years back and I liked Totonto very much. I know you will enjoy your home-made pho, and you’re right, you can’t help but have your home permeated with this beautiful fragrance of pho simmering in your kitchen. And here’s the bonus: don’t worry, you house will not smell bad. The delicious pho smell will not linger and make your house smell really bad like maybe curry does. More reason to enjoy pho! 😉

  33. Quan 13 August, 2013 at 18:53

    Not sure if everyone already knows this but the Quoc Viet 4 pack (2 beef and 2 chicken) is now carried at Costco. Best part, It’s only $16.

  34. Cuong 13 August, 2013 at 19:02

    @Quan: I’ve read about it but have never seen them at any Costco. I would expect Costco to carry them in certain markets only and not at all stores. In any case, care to share which Costco you saw them at?

  35. Cuong 27 November, 2013 at 10:47

    @scott: cooking the meats for an hour is definitely not long enough. You probably missed the step about simmering until meat is soft and tender, and meat flavor is extracted in the broth. This is why good pho broth takes time to make. Quoc viet soup base can help cut simmering the bones, but you still have to tenderize the meats.

  36. Jung 9 December, 2013 at 16:41

    Can anyone tell me if this soup base has any clove in it? I do not like the flavor of clove in my pho and have had that in some restaurants.

    Thanks!

  37. Moonrock 6 January, 2014 at 07:19

    so the flank and/or brisket is to be sliced and served into the PHO broth when it comes time to serve ? Should it be cooled off first so it doesn’t crumble ?

  38. Cuong 13 January, 2014 at 03:21

    @Moonrock: By definition, pho is mostly served to a group even at home. Therefore the meat is normally sliced to serve many portions at the same time. The sequence traditionally follows the order of blanched banh pho into the bowl, then meat and chopped onion/cilantro, then the hot broth. Some people like to dip/soak the meat in hot broth first so they get their bowl hotter when the broth goes in; otherwise the broth would lose heat due to the cold meat in the bowl.

    I think your second question has to do with meat coming out of the broth at the end of the brewing cycle. If your meat crumbles then you probably overcooked it. In any case, wrapping it tight with food wrap will help when it comes time to slice it. Hope this helps.

  39. LovePho 18 January, 2014 at 17:19

    what if the spice bag is ripped open while cooking? Can you still eat the soup or should it be throw away?

  40. Cuong 18 January, 2014 at 20:51

    @LovePho: It may not be a total loss. Assuming the spice bag content is finely ground, powdery particles, what you may try is let the broth sit (maybe after done cooking) to allow everything to settle to the bottom as much as you can. Then pour the broth through a filter (as in large coffee filter paper.) This way you strain out as much of the rest of particles still floating around in the liquid as possible. After that, the broth may not look as good as it could be, but it will probably taste fine.

  41. LovePho 18 January, 2014 at 21:03

    Thanks a lot Cuong! I was afraid I might have to throw the whole pot out once the bag was broken! Thanks again!

  42. Beachmaster 25 February, 2014 at 10:58

    Hi, living along the shore in New Jersey the closest Pho shops are more than an hour away in Atlantic City so the fact I can purchase the products I need on Amazon (yes they have the Quo Viet products but it is not shipped direct from Amazon), or the VietnameseSupermarket (on-line) is great for me. I have eaten Pho in many good shops in Westminister thanks to my friend Alison a caterer from HB and a Pho pro. My question to you is, when ordering additional Pho noodles what size to your recommend for the Pho Bo moodle, small, medium or large? Thanks so much this thread has answered any question I had regarding the use of the Quo Viet packaged stocks.

  43. Cuong 26 February, 2014 at 02:12

    @Beachmaster: not sure if I get your question correctly, but normally if you order extra banh pho noodle in a restaurant, you’ll be served with whatever they serve in the bowl, most probably the small size noodle.

  44. Beachmaster 6 March, 2014 at 09:12

    Cuong, thanks for the response. What I meant was when I’m ordering the noodles on-line I’ve seen the banh pho packages listing small, medium and large size noodles. I just wondered which size would be best to use in concert with the Quo Viet stock. What would be the most traditional size? Thanks.

  45. Cuong 6 March, 2014 at 09:44

    @Beachmaster: most people prefer the small size (3mm) and many restaurants serve only the small size as fresh banh pho noodle comes only in the small size variety. It’s not a matter of which size would be best with Quoc Viet stock. It’s what works for you. It’s like asking “what size spaghetti is best with meatball marinara sauce.” I’d say go for the small size to try, you’ll like it.

  46. Beachmaster 7 March, 2014 at 08:41

    Thanks again Cuong for the respose, that’s exactly what my friends in Huntington Beach told me last night; the smaller width noodle was the best choice and what was used in the numerous Pho restaurants they had taken me too in and around Westminster.

  47. Cuong 7 March, 2014 at 08:48

    @Beachmaster: Glad you find your answer. FYI: For the northern style pho (phở Bắc), the wider 3mm banh pho noodle is actually used. So there is a difference of usage if you want to be more authentic about it. Enjoy your pho.

  48. Beachmaster 7 March, 2014 at 09:25

    Thanks Cuong for additional info. BTW, I just placed my order with Amazon for the Quoc Viet beef flavored pho soup base (4×10 oz. containers) and a triple pack of Three Ladies bahn pho noodles (3mm). I have Amazon Prime and these packages all qualified for free 2-day shipping. If it wasn’t for your web site and great threads I would still be in pho limbo here in NJ. I will let you know what I think as I’ll probably cook next weekend. Many thanks.

  49. Beachmaster 7 March, 2014 at 09:40

    Cuong, my error the small size 1mm is what I ordered — I had 3mm on the brain (LOL)>

  50. Beachmaster 7 March, 2014 at 09:43

    Oh, and by the way Cuong, while my area is lacking for pho shops, we have some good ramen places close by and I make a pretty good ramen myself, using store bought noodles but a hearty homemade stock (slurp)!

  51. Cuong 7 March, 2014 at 09:46

    @Beachmaster: Somebody should consider open a pho shop in your area. Where are you located? If someone wants to, I can definitely help guide him/her through the process of opening and operating a pho restaurant.

  52. Beachmaster 7 March, 2014 at 11:50

    Cuong, I have given that much thought myself. I know it would do well here. I live on the New Jersey shore, Monmouth County to be exact, right by Asbury Park. As I said in an earlier post, the closest locations are in Atlantic City and Pleasantville, just outside Atlantic City. The demographic here is perfect and I’ve tried in vain to get my friends in California who eat pho weekly and are in the food business to come east and help me open one but they aren’t leaving the West Coast. Money is an issue as well. The least problem would be location. If I can ever find an investor I will let you know. Thanks for your kind. Most of the Asian restaurants around here are sushi, habichi, Asian fusion or Chinese American.

  53. Beachmaster 10 March, 2014 at 08:14

    Catering Cuong — parties, weddings, BBQ’s, funerals any type of event that could involve food. The business is based in Huntington Beach but some of the clients they have are in LA, a lot in Newport and all over Orange County.

  54. Cuong 10 March, 2014 at 12:31

    @Beachmaster: I see. Catering is a different beast altogether; much easier than running a restaurant in many ways.

  55. Beachmaster 11 March, 2014 at 05:04

    They would agree too, but they owned a restaurant first and got so many requests to do private parties etc., they sold the restaurant and went 100-percent catering. From my amature observations, serving food to the public in any capacity is not an easy task.

  56. Cuong 13 March, 2014 at 04:36

    @Beachmaster: Sure, and I can understand once they went the catering route and can make money from it, why go back to restaurants.

  57. Beachmaster 17 March, 2014 at 08:12

    Well Cuong, I made the pho using the Quo Viet product this weekend, followed all your instructions. I made the stock the night before. Started it about 6 pm and finished about 9 pm (I could have done it in about 2 hours but did it slow). I used a big piece of bottom round in the stock. Served it the next evening with the noodles, thin sliced filet of raw beef, basil, mint, sliced jalapenos, hoisin, hot sauce, bean sprouts, scallion and limes. Everyone flipped. It was awesome. The Quo Viet stock/seasoning packages are a winner in my book. Only change I will make next batch is going with the 3mm northern noodle as you suggested earlier. I just like a larger noodle. Also, as you said, using the entire container I was left with plenty of left over stock which we put in containers for use later this week. Thanks again.

  58. Beachmaster 7 April, 2014 at 06:30

    Cuong, just wanted to let you know, the last time I made Pho was 03/15/14 and I had 2.5 quarts of broth leftover. I never froze the stock I just put it in plastic quart containers and kept it in the frige. This weekend I decided it was time for a second round of Pho using what broth I had leftover from three weeks ago. Happy to report the broth was just as good as the first time, perhaps even a bit more flavorful as it sat in the frige all that time. I did leave a thin layer of sediment in the containers and by doing so the broth was a dark, clear rich color. It was excellent. Made two full bowls of Pho and still had about a half-quart left. Quo Viet produces a great product.

  59. Cuong 7 April, 2014 at 21:42

    @Beachmaster: For me, 3 weeks may be a stretch to keep anything in the fridge then still eat it, except for some very good cheese that is 😉 Anyway, that’s awesome, the way your broth turns out in terms of color, taste, etc. That’s the way it should be, yeah! Just wondering: did you get a thin layer of white fat on top and did you keep it for reheating and eating? Beside the fact that that layer has a lot of flavor in itself, it is what keep your flavors in the main broth, preventing the broth from reacting directly with the air and making it tasting bad, even when you have a cap or cover on. Thanks for checking in!

  60. Beachmaster 10 April, 2014 at 06:42

    Yes Cuong, there was the thin layer of fat and I did not skim it. I know that’s flavor. I too, thought three weeks without freezing could be a push but prior to making the pho I heated a small about in a cup, drank it and worked in my garden for three hours. No ill effects so I figured I’d run with it. However, the reason I didn’t freeze it was because I thought I’d use it sooner. Next time I’ll be more diligent with forward menu planning and if I know I won’t use it within 10-days I will freeze it.

  61. Cuong 10 April, 2014 at 13:04

    @Beachmaster: Testing it and giving it 3 hours to see if you have ill effects? You are serious about pho my friend. Also, why throw away something you spent 3 hours making, right? Of course we’ve all left foods in the fridge longer than we intended to, but the nice thing about pho broths is (within reasonable time of course,) boiling it up will help kill much bacteria that started growing, and you’re good to go 😀

  62. Dominique 26 May, 2014 at 18:24

    I just used the Quoc Viet pho soup base from Costco. I added 1 of the spice pouches and half the soup base to a big boiling pot of water with 1 lb beef shank w/ bone, 1 onion (cut in half), charred ginger strips and a handful of extra anise stars. Turned out terrific and the amount was enough for 4 medium size bowls. I had the butcher slice up my rare beef just the way I like it. I added the accompaniments: bean sprouts, basil, lots of lime, cilantro, green onions, sriracha, a little splash of fish sauce and a serrano chili for me. Took me 1.5 hours. Loved it!!

  63. Cuong 26 May, 2014 at 21:04

    @Dominique: Congrats on making pho on your own. With the exception of the shank with bone, which I don’t think did much for you in the amount of time you cooked, you can see how easy it is to start making your own pho. You may try without the bone next time, and your broth should be just as good, while the broth itself should be much clearer as well. Just my 2 cents.

  64. Justin 12 July, 2014 at 19:28

    Hi Cuong,

    I just finished cooking your recipe using the Quoc Viet Soup Base. My soup came out to be a little on the oily side. Any idea why? Thank you in advance for the help!

    Justin

  65. Justin 12 July, 2014 at 19:43

    I’m thinking I need to blanch it more than once? I know when my mom cooks her Filipino beef soup dishes she blanches the meat 3 times.

  66. Cuong 12 July, 2014 at 22:41

    @Justin: The QV soup base does have oil in it out of the can/package. Whatever you use for beef (flank, brocket, etc.) will create additional fat in the broth. The layer of oil on top of the broth actually serves to preserve your broth; it prevents air from reacting with the broth and make it go bad faster. If you don’t like much fat in your pho, then you would just not ladle the fat into your bowl when serving; just leave it in the pot with the rest. I’d recommend leaving the layer of fat there and not throw it out.

    I’m not sure what you mean by blanching more than one. Do you mean blanching the pho noodle? Pho noodle should be blanched only once just before serving in the bowl. If you meant blanching the raw meat, then you shouldn’t have to do that. The thinly sliced eye round should cook plenty fast when boiling broth is poured over it. Hope this helps.

  67. Justin 14 July, 2014 at 12:31

    Hi Cuong,

    Thanks so much for the speedy reply. We left it in the fridge over night and some fat formed on top of the soup. We removed the layer of fat and the soup is no longer overly oily. It is perfect now. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    Justin

  68. Cuong 16 April, 2015 at 18:56

    Hi Francine: Assuming by “powder” you mean the soup base which is more like a coarse paste, you should be able to scale the soup base with the spice pack. I think there are 2 spice packs in one container, so it’s one spice bag for each half of soup base. If you use the whole container at once then you use both spice bags.

    The way they packaged the container, you have to either use the whole container at once with both spice bags, or half the container with one spice bag, saving the other half and other spice bag for a future batch. Obviously if you want to use 1/3 of the soup base, then you have to use one spice bag because you should not break open a bag. The spice particles in there will dirty up your broth.

    Once you’re used to this, how much spice you use depends on your own personal taste. The way to adjust how much spice is in the broth is by either quantity (a bag or 2 bags) and the timing (the longer cook time of the spices, the more pungent the pho broth will become). Hope this is not too confusing.

  69. Francine 17 April, 2015 at 05:22

    Thanks Cuong for the detailed response. It all makes sense now! I can’t wait to use this and save time when making pho

  70. Cuong 17 April, 2015 at 15:46

    Glad to help out Francine. If the first batch does not quite meet your expectation (but I must tell you, it’s very hard to mess this up), then your next batch will be much better after you get a feel for it. Good luck.

  71. Steven 4 June, 2015 at 15:09

    Hi Cuong, love your website. This is a true place for the elite pho eaters. I’ve always ate pho in restaurants but have been experimenting on the best method for cooking quality pho with consistency at home. So far, its been good but not as I’d prefer it to be. With regards to spices, I’ve had a few recommendations from people that cooks pho, some are restaurant owners as well. The recommendations from these people range from putting the spices in the broth for 15 minutes to to 1 hour. I find that with 15 minutes it is impossible for me to accept the fragrant of the broth. I’ve tried 45 minutes and it was acceptable. I wanted to leave it in longer to extract more fragrant but I was afraid it might give it too much of a kick that the taste may turn out tangy. My question is then, should we double or triple the amount of spice and remove it sooner to give it a good kick without the tangy taste? For example if I use little amount of spice, I’ll just leave it in there much longer, lets say maybe 2 hours or more. Or is the amount of spice not as important as to the amount of time its in the broth?

  72. Cuong 4 June, 2015 at 15:59

    @Steven: Great question. Spices for pho are critical ingredients that can make or break your pho pot. In general, yes it makes sense that the longer you cook the spices, the more you get out of it. And conversely, the quicker you cook them, the less flavor and fragrance you will get. The trade-off is just as you described: time versus quantity. But there’s also another dimension: method of preparation.

    But first let’s look at an analogy. Think of cooking your spices like steeping your coffee grounds in a French press. The reason why it is not recommended to go past 4 minutes in the French press is because the resulting coffee will taste bitter with longer time. Four minutes would be just right for coffee in the French press. So in a similar way, after being cooked too long in the broth, I would expect that you would not get much more out of the spices, plus they may even give you undesirable tastes.

    There’s also another reason why I mention steeping coffee grounds in a French press: the coffee ground. Regardless of the spice combination you use (depending on the recipe), you can do one of at least 4 things with your spices:

    1. Cook them whole in the broth,
    2. Roast/broil them whole (in a sauce pan) before cooking in the broth,
    3. Grind them before adding them in the broth (preferably in a bag), and
    4. Grind and roast them before going in the broth (also in a bag).

    The grinding releases fragrance of the spices and gives you more surface areas of spice to cook in the broth. The roasting action by itself also releases the fragrance of the spice as you heat it up. So as you can see, combining grinding and roasting in option 4 above will give you a very strong and quick kick of spice flavors at the shortest time possible.

    So with all that said, and taking into account all other variables, I’d recommend you test to see what works for you. If you decide to use option 4, I would say 30-45 minutes should be a good start, without knowing your pot size and other variables. Sorry for the long answer, but I hope this helps.

  73. Steven 4 June, 2015 at 21:22

    Anh Cuong, thanks for the detailed answer. That was a lot of pho wisdom. I might give the 4th option a try. The previous trials, I only roasted the spices as most recipe suggested. The problem that I have is that my mom complains that the broth I make is too dark or too brown. And yes, I did washed and boiled the bones for 10 minutes and got rid of the first water as there are a lot of impurities that gets released from simmering the bones. I then washed the bones again before adding it to the main pot with filtered water in it. As it simmers for the few hours, I do scoop the gunks that float to the top. Yet the broth isn’t as clear as my mom would like. I told my mom that the pho she eats at restaurant with the clear broth is all msg and a lot of artificial flavorings. But she didn’t buy that. Is it because one of the spice causes the broth to become brownish? I checked my local supermarket and it has a variety of pho spices prepacked in a bag. Some have 6 spices while others have only 3 kinds. I used the one with all the pho spices with cinnamon, cloves, fennel, coriander, star anise, and cardamon. It comes with a small pouch to easily remove the spices afterwards too. Are all of these spices essential for the broth? I was hoping to dismiss the one that may have cause the broth to turn dark brown. I have heard from someone that having too much of a certain spice for too long causes the broth to darken. I just forgot which one.

  74. Cuong 5 June, 2015 at 13:53

    @Steven: If your broth turned out too dark or brown, then I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily due to the bone or meat, unless you still had a lot of blood coming off of them during simmering, and your simmering is too close to boiling. If you didn’t simmer correctly, meaning with only nice and gentle boiling action in the water, then you will get a lot more impurities coming off, but then it would make your broth more murky and not necessarily dark in color. Also it helps if you skim the scums regularly, preferably as they are formed and not letting them float around for too long. A lot of TLC you know?

    I don’t think the spices alone would get your broth dark brown, again unless you leave them in for too long. But then again how dark can it get with such small amount of spices? You mentioned you left the spices for an hour, which may be too long for a small pot/quantity of broth. I’m still not sure what quantity we’re discussing here so I can’t be sure what else to point out for you. How many quarts are we talking about here?

    Anyway I have to side with your mom on this. I wouldn’t buy any of your explanations ;P But I need more info before being to say something more specific to your case. Otherwise I can only give you general guidelines.

    The number and type of spices you use may be irrelevant to the resulting broth color, to a certain extent. You may want to test this yourself by light boiling some spices in water and see what color they contribute to your clear water, then decide. I’ve done some of this myself and it shouldn’t cause any concern.

    Remember, don’t argue with your mom lol.

  75. Steven 6 June, 2015 at 01:16

    Anh Coung, deep inside I don’t want to argue with my mom that’s why I have to secretly seek advice from a pho expert LOL. As for my pot size, I have a 23 qt pot. It’s big but not gigantic like those at the restaurant. However, the water gets filled up to only 2/3 of the pot, that’s with the bones and stuff in there. For my first time, I used about 4 lbs of bones with 1 prepacked spice bag. Okay, I’ll admit I cheated the first time but it didn’t help. The pho flavor wasn’t strong enough so I added the instant pho flavoring from a jar. I was skeptical because its product of Thailand. So I’m sure it contributed to the dark cloudy broth. It was good but the color wasn’t too appealing. It was more of a Thai boat noodle, which happens to be my favorite as well so I didn’t mind. Since my mom and her friends love tripes, I went ahead and bought it home so they can add it in my creative recipe lol. And they loved it. I don’t like tripes so I added beef balls with my rare steak. To my astonishment, we finish the whole pot and it was my first pot of pho ever. With a bit of experience from the first time, I doubled the amount of bones to about 8 lbs and used 2 bags of prepacked spices for my 2nd attempt. It was much more flavorful without the broth being dark but brown, similar to the color of the oil in your car. I’ve had pho at restaurants where the soup is as clear as the hu tieu broth but with strong, beefy, pho flavor. Its mind boggling to me as to how it’s possible. A possibility that you mention was probably because there is a lot of blood coming off the bones/oxtails which I don’t think is an issue for me because I washed them with salt, then simmer them for about 10 minutes, and then thoroughly washed them again before tossing them into the main pot. But you’re right; maybe I should try to put the spices in the water alone for a while to see if there are any changes to the color. I’ll be sure to try this the next time I make pho, which should be real soon. Regardless if the water turns brown or not, I’m keeping the water after I remove the spices and just toss in the bones for it to simmer. And if I feel the broth still isn’t having a good kick to it, I’m going to add another packet of spice and leave in there for another 20-30 minutes.

    Additional information, I do char the ginger and onions and got rid of the black charred around it before tossing it in the pot. I also use cheesecloth to filter the broth after its done cooking so it’s a clean broth without any unwanted stuff floating around.

    If you have any suggestions or recommendations before my next trial, please provide them and I will update with my results. Thank you!

  76. Cuong 6 June, 2015 at 08:31

    @Steven: Based on the additional information, here are some additional feedback for you:

    – The spice in water test should be just that, testing some spices in boiling water in a small sauce pan just so you see what color you get. This is for your own understanding of how these ingredients behave and how they affect the liquid color. I wouldn’t just continue to make your pho from this. Instead of using pre-made bags, you may consider buying your own spices and mix them yourself. This way you know exactly what you use.

    – 23 quart pot is not very large, especially with bones and other things in there, but it’s should be fine for home cooking. Just be aware that, for such small pot, any change you make may become more magnified and exaggerated than you may intend to.

    – The instant flavoring may have contributed to your color, but without knowing what it is, it’s hard to say.

    – Regarding the bones, if you haven’t done so, I suggest you have them cut into 2 inch long pieces. This will expose more marrow for more flavor quicker.

    – During blanching, I would not just simmer the bones and the meat (like flank and/or brisket, if you use any). I would boil it at the highest boil you can for 5-10 minutes, then discard the water and wash the bones and meat. This is the time to get all the dirty stuff out of both the bones and the meat, and this is the way to do it. Otherwise, you’re not getting much junk off at slow simmering.

    – For the charred ginger and onions, it’s not necessary to clean off the black/burned stuff. The black stuff actually contributes to your broth’s flavor, and they don’t add much color if at all. You said you filter the broth afterward so that is perfectly fine.

    The bottom line is to have fun finding what you want, but you want to do it with the proper knowledge in order to say on track. I hope these tips help. Happy hunting.

  77. Steven 8 June, 2015 at 01:34

    Thanks for the advice! I’ll try it again this time with your suggestions. Until then, I have to finish the big pot of hu tieu in my kitchen.

  78. Cuong 8 June, 2015 at 08:15

    Let me know how it goes the next time you try it again @Steven. Looks like you’re very busy cooking good stuff in your kitchen there.

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