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. Justin 14 July, 2014 at 12:31 Reply

    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

  2. Cuong Huynh 16 April, 2015 at 18:56 Reply

    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.

  3. Francine 17 April, 2015 at 05:22 Reply

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

  4. Cuong Huynh 17 April, 2015 at 15:46 Reply

    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.

  5. Steven 4 June, 2015 at 15:09 Reply

    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?

  6. Cuong Huynh 4 June, 2015 at 15:59 Reply

    @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.

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