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RATIOS !! [Moderator note: Recipe scaling]  


phojpv
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Hey everyone, my name is John Paul and I am new the forum community. I just finished up fifty days in Ho Chi Minh City, and I gotta tell you -- some of the best days of my life spent in this beautiful place. Not to mention, I got to eat some of the best pho I'v ever had in my life.

While I was in hcmc, I decided to taking some cooking classes. I've always wanted to learn how to prepare pho, but the biggest issue I've had is getting the right ratios. I'm creating this topic here to get some advice from everyone about how they go about their ratios.

My issue is getting the exact water to ingredients ratio, so you don't end up with pho that is too watery. I think I might end up having an assortment of questions, so if you guys don't mind sharing some of your inside knowledge, it would be much appreciated.

What are y'alls water to ingredients ratio?

water/bone
for example, if you have 4 quarts of water -- first, what amount of bones will you use to create the bone broth? what type of bones will you use to create the bone broth? how long do you parboil your bones to make sure all impurities are removed? In my class, my instructor said the pork bones and even chicken heads/necks can be used to create the bone broth.

water/shallot&ginger
what is your rule of thumb for water to  ginger/shallots ratio? if you roast in an oven, how long do you roast for and at what temperature?

water/meat
I definitely feel like this is one of the most important ratios. First off, what types of meats do you use to create the broth and add the beef flavor? how long do you cook these meats for, to make sure maximum amount of flavor is absorbed without the meat being over cooked? As a rule of thumb, what is your lbs of meat to gallon of water ratio?

Recently, I believe I over cooked my brisket because I didn't remove from the water soon enough. Generally, I will receive sliced brisket in my pho but I cooked mine so long it fell apart (stringy like) - -along with my eye of round too. Don't get me wrong, it tasted fantastic but was just prepared a little differently.

water/spices
this one is a bit annoying for me! First of all, I was racking my brain about how much of each spice (cardamom, fennel seed, coriander seed, cinnamon, clove, star of anise) is needed per specific part water. At the local asian market, I found a product which includes all of the spices and a teabag to put them in. I figured this could be a good way to get a better understanding of this ratio. Since the instructions on the bag was in Vietnamese, I sent it to my girlfriend in hcmc and she translated it for me. Unfortunately, it didn't say anything about the amount of water.. which leads me to believe, perhaps the amount of water isn't so significant here. What it did mention was to put the spices in towards the end, but not too leave the spices in too long or you can ruin the flavor of the broth because it will be to aromatic. : / !!

What exactly is too long?! I definitely roast my spices first (just so there is no confusion). I feel like the clove is the most strong of all the spices, and I should probably cut that one down a little bit. Do y'all have any ratios for water/spice? When do you add your spices and how long do you let them stay in the broth? I measured out the package of spices, and this is the amount of spices (in grams) that were included. star of anise 9g, cinnamon 4g, cardamom 3g, clove 3g, coriander/fennel 24g.

I think this pretty much wraps up my thoughts. I will be making a new batch again this upcoming weekend and would love to try some of y'alls recommendations. Please feel free to note any other tips or advice that you use when making your pho.

Cheers!

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HaleyAx87
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@phojpv

You need to find a good recipe. It will answer a lot of your questions. Unfortunately I can't share mine but there are lots of pho recipes to start with online. Once you understand the recipe and become proficient with the process, you can then further make adjustments to your liking.

The way you break down the different water-to-ingredients "ratios" is not how proper recipe and cooking actually works. You'll want to look at a recipe, understand the purpose of each ingredient, follow the instructions and procedure, do it enough time to be consistent at it and achieving good yield every time.

As an example, a recipe may call for 5 lbs of bones and 10 lbs of meat/protein to light boil in 10 gallons of water for 4 hours, after the initial parboiling. Following are some of the variables you'll want to keep in mind:

  • How you cut your bones can determine how long you cook. Larger pieces will require more time, small pieces requires less time.
  • If you want to add more or less flavors, you can increase or decrease the amount of bones and/or proteins you use.
  • Your recipe will tell you when to put something in, how long to cook it for, at what temperature, etc. This goes with pretty all ingredients including bones and proteins, fish sauce, spices, and any other flavoring.

There are many more considerations but these should give you an idea of the process involved.

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phojpv
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@haleyax87

"If you want to add more or less flavors, you can increase or decrease the amount of bones and/or proteins you use."

This would be considered a ratio. This is exactly what this post is about -- but is has everything to do with the amount of water because essentially this is a vietnamese bone broth recipe.

Thanks for the advice.

 

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phojpv
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YIKES! I almost forgot to ask...

FISH SAUCE!!!

Fish sauce is definitely an ingredient necessary in Pho. From what I've read, it greatly affects the flavor of pho -- making it necessary for a perfect broth. but how much? i've working on finding the taste but I haven't mastered it yet. Do you guys have a rule of thumb for fish sauce?

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chuynh
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@phojpv : What you're describing is a recipe. A recipe, for both new cooks and seasoned chefs alike, is what is needed to properly create a dish correctly and consistently. It shows a list of ingredients, the needed quantities of each ingredient, and methods and procedures (prep, cook times, sequence of steps, etc.) to prepare and cook the ingredients to create the proper yield, quality and quantity of the final dish. Good recipe also includes final plating to serve as well.

You didn't mention what cooking class you took while in Saigon, and whether it included pho making. If it did include pho making then the class should have discussed a pho recipe as part of the class as a matter of course. If the class didn't include pho making, then you can find various different recipes for pho online and start from there. I also make available a recipe for beef pho in the form of an infographic and you can check it out following this link https://www.lovingpho.com/pho-chefs-recipes/beef-pho-recipe-infographic/

Having a recipe will help you answer a lot of questions you listed.

You may also want to peruse the main lovingpho.com site and these forums as well for discussions on proper way to make pho broths. Just search for terms like "pho broth" or "making pho broth", etc. Here are a few:

https://www.lovingpho.com/pho-corner-everything-pho/pho-broth-soup-stock-vietnamese-pho/

https://www.lovingpho.com/vietnamese-pho-restaurants/how-long-to-cook-pho-spices-in-pho-broth/

https://www.lovingpho.com/pho-chefs-recipes/pho-recipe-easy-fixes-to-homemade-pho-problems/

https://www.lovingpho.com/pho-chefs-recipes/how-best-to-add-spices-when-making-pho-broth/

https://www.lovingpho.com/vietnamese-pho-restaurants/ways-to-store-large-quantity-of-pho-broth-when-you-made-too-much-of-it/

Best of luck.

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phojpv
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@chuynh

Well, I actually have a recipe. What I am aiming at here are ratios. The recipe I have includes all the necessary ingredients, but depending how how large of a batch you would like to make is where the ratios come in.. hence my topic title! Everyone has their own way of making pho, and so I am interested in peoples water to ingredient ratios.

I took a cooking class at http://saigoncookingclass.com/ which included recipes for char siu pork belly banh mi, ban xeo, pho, and com tam (broken rice).

Thanks for the info!

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TranTBHoa-SG
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@phojpv

If you already have a recipe to produce a certain yield, and want to scale to a different batch size/different yield, iow you want to scale your recipe, then a good starting point is to first do a linear scaling.

Linear scaling means that if you want double or triple yield compared to your base recipe yield, then you double or triple everything, respectively. After that you make adjustments to each ingredient as needed based on your own preferences or tastes.

This is standard process and straightforward. As someone already said, scaling a recipe by figuring out different ratios of water to individual ingredients can make things unnecessarily complex and confusing.

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chuynh
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@trantbhoa-sg and @phojpv

Good tips in general. I would add that the cooking time should be maintained per the base recipe to begin with, but add prep and non-cooking time to accommodate handling of larger/heavier pot, longer time to fill up and drain, longer time to wash and clean meat and bones, etc. Then at the last stages make adjustments (simmer longer, leave spices in longer, etc.) to taste, and most importantly, record the new info in the scaled up recipe.

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phojpv
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@chuynh

See, I feel cooking time (when it comes to pho) can be so arbitrary. It isn't uncommon for pho shop owners to have an overnight bone broth with atleast 12 hours. The last batch I made, I cooked the bones separately from the meat. I parboiled the bones to remove the impurities, and let them simmer overnight.  The next day I removed the bones by straining the broth, and after I added the shallots, ginger, brisket, flank, and eye of round.

I will be following your infographic recipe tomorrow to see how the broth flavor turns out. It seems that you cook everything at once, for a maximum of 6 hours - including the spices. Would you say its not how long you leave the spices in that affects the flavor, but more so the amount of spices you use? I read that leaving in the aromatic spices too long can make the pho taste bad. Any experience with this problem?

With this recipe, do you find yourself needing to add more water to taste? I noticed that as part of your last step.

Thank you for your feedback,

- JP   

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