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

Quoc Viet Foods logoUpdated 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.

Full 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. 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.

Quoc Viet Foods 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 beef soup base cooking instructions

Quoc Viet Foods Beef Soup Base cooking instructions

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. 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.

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.

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

  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.

148 comments

  1. Beachmaster 10 April, 2014 at 06:42 Reply

    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.

  2. Cuong Huynh 10 April, 2014 at 13:04 Reply

    @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 😀

  3. Dominique 26 May, 2014 at 18:24 Reply

    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!!

  4. Cuong Huynh 26 May, 2014 at 21:04 Reply

    @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.

  5. Justin 12 July, 2014 at 19:28 Reply

    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

  6. Justin 12 July, 2014 at 19:43 Reply

    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.

  7. Cuong Huynh 12 July, 2014 at 22:41 Reply

    @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 once. 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.

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