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.

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146 comments

  1. Steven 4 June, 2015 at 21:22 Reply

    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.

  2. Cuong 5 June, 2015 at 13:53 Reply

    @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.

  3. Steven 6 June, 2015 at 01:16 Reply

    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!

    • Tracy 18 February, 2017 at 00:46 Reply

      Steven,

      I noticed that you stated that you use “product of Thailand”. Try Quoc Viet Foods products. It is made from real bones vs. artificial flavorings & MSG. See if that helps with the clear broth. Good luck.

  4. Cuong 6 June, 2015 at 08:31 Reply

    @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 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.

  5. Ramen King 2 July, 2016 at 17:30 Reply

    Its look like a duck, walk like a duck, quack like a duck, it is a duck! There are many companies out there making much better tasting products than this company with better flavors. Someone commented in amazon this product smell like fish food. Also I heard this company put dead people bone in their soup base. No lie. do your research.

    • Cuong 2 July, 2016 at 18:29 Reply

      @Ramen King: no lie, and also no links or references? It would be helpful to share the sources where you got your info from. If you spent the time to make a serious point, then you might as well spend some extra seconds to share some back up references. If you know of better products then by all means please share.

      Dead people’s bones? Are you still living some place where baseless stupid rumors are still taken seriously?

      Or maybe you’re associated with people who lost the lawsuit to Quoc Viet a few months back? I get no benefit from Quoc Viet, but I’m just saying.

      I’ll leave this comment on here so readers can make their own conclusion about your contribution. Any future comment of the same nature will be taken down.

      And thanks for visiting Lovingpho.com.

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