Updated 03-14-18. 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 a solid beef pho recipe? Check out Lovingpho’s own Beef Pho Recipe infographic.
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. I should point out that the soup base itself is not loose powder as you may expect. Rather, because there is beef fat included (to give you the correct flavor), what you have is actually more like a grainy paste with a greasy consistency.
But don't let my description scares you. This is normal and it is the good stuff. 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. As already mentioned, it 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 (I know, I already said this).
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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. Bring to boil then simmer 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. Important: Do not tear spice filter bags.
- After 15 minutes, remove spice bags. Continue simmer 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.
- Also add fish sauce per your preference. Remember: start with small amount and add more as needed.
- 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.”
NOTE: The above constitutes recipe for the broth only. To serve a complete pho meal, you’ll need to separately prepare other ingredients such as the banh pho noodle, chopped scallions and cilantro, etc.
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.
Actually, the 3 hours that I spent to create the large volume of broth means that the next time I want to eat pho at home, I can have it as fast as I can prep the ingredients, cook the noodle, and re-thermalize (fancy word for reheat) the broth. Awesome!
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
- Chicken Flavored "Pho" Soup Base
- Beef Flavored "Pho" Soup Base
- Beef Stew Seasoning
- "Hue" Style Beef Flavored Soup Base
- Chicken Flavored Soup Base
- Pork Flavored "Hu Tieu" Soup Base
- Pork Flavored Soup Base
- Tamarind Soup Base
- Vegetarian Soup Base
- Crab Flavored Soup Base
- 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.
Well, that lawsuit between Quoc Viet Foods and VV Foods is finally over.
Just saw this today pop up on my Google Feed: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rhema-law-group-and-quoc-viet-foods-obtain-complete-victory-against-vv-foods-in-vietnamese-cot-trademark-case-300906204.html
Looks like Quoc Viet won the whole case. Man, why do companies like VV FOODS do this sort of stuff? Stop copying other people’s hard earned trademarks and just do your own stuff. Geez.
These occasional “updates” 🙄 on the lawsuit are irrelevant to the subject matter being discussed and should be filtered out. I lose my appetite reading them.
Don’t know what’s wrong with these people. They’re fighting over the word “cốt” which just means the core, the base or probably even the marrow in the bone. I think no Vietnamese cares about this word on Quoc Viet products. In this context this word “cốt” probably means “base” in English. However, if this word is a trademark then QV as a company themselves don’t use their own trademark properly (or even respect it) because nowhere on their product that they have (TM) or ® next the word cốt; they just have ® after the names of each soup type. Strange.
Below is a screen shot of QV’s home page, showing what I’m talking about re: the use of the word cốt.
I’m not an expert in trademark issues but I think QV as a company is not using the marks correctly. While not mandatory, I think it’s to the trademark owner’s benefit to actually use the ™ or ® consistently and correctly. For example I see “Cốt Phở Bò®” in the text but it’s not on the actual product label. Also it seems the whole lawsuit was about the word “Cốt” but on the website the registered mark applies to the whole Cốt Phở Bò®. Very confusing.
QV owns several trademarks on the COT brand of soup base products. The terms like “PHO BO” or “PHO GA” etc…are merely generic/descriptive terms of what the flavor of the soup base is. The registration symbol “R” appears at the end because the entire name of each soup base product was registered (i.e. COT PHO BO etc…) so QV is using the registration symbol properly.
However, the term “COT” is the unique/distinctive portion of the mark that was deemed protectable because as it applies to soup base products, it was found to be a unique play on words to use the term COT (without a head word like NUOC).
Hi – It’s been a year since I’ve used QV chicken base. Always turned out great. Looking over my notes, I followed it, but left out how much water to add at the end. I just made it yesterday, and the taste is not the same. Roughly how much broth does 1 tub make? Is it 2 gallons as per Anh Cuong’s original recipe? Thank you 🙂
@Amber: The amount of water you use should follow the recipe. In this case the recipe should be on QV’s cooking instructions, unless you’ve made changes to fit your taste.
My instructions in the original post above of “Adjust water to 2 gallons or to taste” follows what the label says. about 2 gallon yield. To clarify, this means that the manufacturer suggested amount is 2 gallons of yield. This means to bring up the amount in the pot to 2 gallons and not to add 2 gallons to the pot. It’s a big difference and I hope you didn’t do the latter ;). How much you actually add depends on personal taste. Hope this helps.
Hi Anh Cuong,
I have talk to you before , it’s been a couple years now. but i would like to know the cost of the package you charge to open a pen restaurant from A to Z turn key. please reply to my email , email@example.com
Hi Michael: Thanks for reaching out. I do not maintain standard packages for consulting. No two situations are exactly alike. For this reason I generally go through an initial consultation to determine exactly what you need and whether I’m the right person to help. If you are interested and ready to go then please book a one-hour consultation: /one-hour-pho-restaurant-consultation/
how do i make a bowl at a time. and then how do i use the spice bags. Can i open them and just leave the spices in the soup?
@Ron Maki: Sorry but afaik there isn’t a way to make one pho bowl at a time from scratch, and get the quality that you want to eat. Best way is to make a batch as described then freeze what you don’t eat.