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HomeFoodPho Dac Biet - A Glorious Vietnamese Dish

Pho Dac Biet – A Glorious Vietnamese Dish [with Recipe]

Pho is the ultimate Vietnamese soup, while pho dac biet is beef pho. Pho dac biet has grown in popularity thanks to the various flavors that feature in the broth. This mouthwatering soup dish consists of rice noodles, broth, meat (usually beef), and herbs.

Pho dac biet is a Vietnamese translation for all kinds of special beef variations such as raw sliced steak, beef tripe, brisket, tendons, and Vietnamese meatballs. Being a popular food in Vietnam, pho is served in restaurants, street food, and households. Pho is a national dish of Vietnam and a specialty of several restaurant chains across the world.




Pho Dac Biet Vietnamese (Origin and Curiosities)

Pho originated in Northern Vietnam in the early 20th century. The popularity of the dish spread across the world by the Vietnamese refugees after the Vietnam War. Due to poor documentation, there exist small disagreements over the cultural inputs that led to the development of the dish in Vietnam and the origin of the name.

The Saigon (southern) and Hanoi (northern) styles of pho vary in the sweetness of broth, choice of herbs, and the width of noodles.


A Brief History of Pho

Pho probably developed from similar noodle dishes. The modern pho emerged around 1900 to 1907 in Vietnam in Nam Dinh Province, located southeast of Hanoi. The origin and popularization of pho grew due to the intersection of several cultural and historical factors around the 20th century.

For example, the availability of beef attributed to French demand produced beef bones that the Chinese purchased to make a dish similar to pho. Workers from the provinces of Guangdong and Yunnan loved this dish because it resembled what they had from their homeland. Eventually, the dish became popular amongst the general population.

Pho was initially sold at dawn and dusk by itinerant street vendors who carried mobile kitchens on carrying poles.  Pho served with rare beef was introduced in 1930. Chicken pho emerged in 1939 probably because the markets did not sell beef on Mondays and Fridays. With the splitting of Vietnam in 1954, millions fled North Vietnam and headed for South Vietnam.

Pho, initially unpopular in the south, became popular. Variations in meat and broth emerged, and extra garnishes like bean sprouts, lime, cilantro, cinnamon basil, hoisin sauce, and hot chili sauce became a standard. During the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese refugees brought pho to many countries, including cities in the United States, Australia, and Canada.


Traditional Pho Dac Biet Cooks for Hours

Traditionally, pho requires anywhere between 6 to 16 hours of simmering the broth to develop the perfect taste. However, with a pressure cooker, you can prepare almost as good pho as the traditional one in just two hours.

The pressure cooker method works well because minimal moisture is lost during the cooking process, and pressure gets the flavors out of the ingredients. This implies that the broth does not get concentrated while cooking (or else it will become undesirable cloudy or dark)



Pho Spices and Noodles

Different foods and ingredients constitute pho dac biet. They include:



Noodles are an integral part of pho dac biet. However, the noodles in pho differ from the regular kinds of noodles. They are high-quality rice noodles made using pristine white rice flour. These rice noodles are tender with a nice body.


The Bones and Meat

Pho dac biet is prepared using beef. The sorts of beef variations that go into pho include beef tripe, raw sliced steak, Vietnamese meatball, tendons, bones, flank, and oxtail.


The broth

You cannot have pho dac biet without the broth. People in Vietnam usually judge the quality of pho by its broth. A stall with a poor broth reputation will hardly stay open. A Quality broth is clear with an underlying earthiness brought about by the prolonged simmering of bones, tendons, and other meats. Another critical aspect of the broth is the spice and aromatics.


Herbs and Vegetables

In the standard pho dac biet, roasted or charred ginger and onions are the main vegetable constituents. Funnels can go in, but they tend to be more subtle. The herbs include Thai basil, fresh bean sprouts, Thai chili peppers, green onions, and cilantro. The herbs are best ripped up and sprinkled into the broth rather than submerged in the dish.


The spices

The spices that go into pho dac biet seasoning include coriander seeds, fennel seeds, whole cloves, Saigon cinnamon sticks, and black cardamom.


The sauce

It is common to have some sauces served with pho. Typical condiments include sriracha, hoisin, and fish sauce. In Vietnam, sauces as condiments are not a default (they are less prominent), and good broth is savored as served. Lime is also used.



Pho Dac Biet Recipe



For the Broth

  • 20 cups boiling water (divided)
  • 2 lbs beef brisket (trim off fat)
  • 5 lbs beef bone marrow (alternatives include beef knuckle bones or neck bones)
  • 3 beef tendons
  • 4 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 sweet onions (sliced)
  • 4” ginger
  • 2 Oz rock sugar (approximately two big chunks)
  • 2 tablespoon salt


For the Noodles and Toppings

  • 3 lbs fresh pho noodles (You may use dry pho noodles)
  • 1 to 2 lbs steak (alternatives include sirloin, new York strips, or rib-eye)
  • 1 to 2 lbs beef tripe
  • 1 lb pho beef meatballs
  • 1 sweet onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 lb fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch green onion (finely chopped)
  • Fresh Thai basil (leaves only)
  • Cilantro
  • Hoisin sauce
  • 2 to 4 lime (sliced)
  • Sriracha sauce
  • 1 to 3 sliced Jalapeno (or red Chile Peppers)


For the Seasoning

  • 4 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 4 anise seeds
  • 2 Saigon cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon cloves (whole)
  • 1 black cardamom



Parboil Meat and Bones

  1. Clean and rinse the bone marrow, tendons, and brisket
  2. In a large pot, pour in 12 cups of water, bring to a boil, and then add the meats. Let the contents boil for a further 10 minutes. Scoop out and discard the graying floating foam from the water.
  3. Transfer the bones and meat to a strainer and rinse them under the sink. Ensure you remove all the scum (graying floating foam) from the meat.


Roast and Char

  1. Heat your pan to medium-high. Add all the seasonings to the pan and toast them until very fragrant. This should take around 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat and remove the seasonings. Put the seasonings in a tea bag (or ball infuser) and set them aside.
  3. Add two onions and ginger into a clean pan. Char each side until blackened – this should take around 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the ginger to a chopping board. Smash the charred ginger until it splits. Alternatively, you can place the onions and ginger in the oven at 4250F (around 2200C) for 25 minutes (remember to flip halfway).


Pressure Cook

  1. Place the parboiled marrow followed by the tendons, brisket, charred onions, and smashed ginger into the pressure cooker. Stack them according to the above order
  2. Add 12 cups of boiling water into the pressure cooker (which will help establish optimal pressure faster). Keep the water under the 2/3 max line (Do not exceed the max line).
  3. Add the seasoning bag on top of the meat (not in the water), followed by the rock sugar and salt.
  4. Place the lid in position and pressure cook on high for about an hour and natural release for half an hour. (Always be cautious when releasing pressure from the pressure cooker)
  5. Once safe, open the cooker and remove the tendons and brisket. Transfer them to a bowl of cold water and let them rest for 15 to 20 minutes or until cool to touch. Remove or discard the bones, ginger, and onion.
  6. Add 8 cups of hot boiling water to the pressure cooker and remember not to exceed the 2/3 max line.
  7. Place the lid in position and pressure cook on high for about 3 minutes, followed by a quick release.
  8. Add the fish sauce to the broth and stir well (season with salt and sugar if necessary). Discard the bag of seasoning.
  9. Optional, although recommended – place a mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth or coffee filter over a large pot or bowl and slowly pour the stock via the filter. This will reduce the fat and leave a clear pho soup.
  10. Transfer the broth back to the pressure cooker (ensure you clean the instant pot cooker before reusing it).
  11. On the instant pot, press the sauté button and set it to high for 20 minutes.
  12. Add the meatballs to the broth.


Slice Meat

  1. Keep the steak in the freezer for half an hour – it helps make thin meat slices. Cut the steak against the grain into thin slices. Set the pieces aside. Slice the brisket, cover, and set aside. Slice the tendons into quarter or half-inch strips and set them aside. An optional step – slice the meatballs in half.


Cook the Noodles

  1. Add the noodles to a bowl. Add boiling water and blanch for 10 to 12 seconds. Drain the noodles and return them to the bowl. This is the preferred method.
  2. If on a stovetop, halfway fill a medium-size pot with water and bring to a boil. Blanch fresh pho noodles for 5 to 7 minutes in boiling water. If using dry noodles, follow the instructions and cook time on the packaging. Remove and strain the noodles before transferring to a serving bowl.


Assemble and Arrange

  1. Add the cooked noodles to the center of the bowl.
  2. To the bowl, add the sliced steak, brisket, meatballs, tendons, and tripe.
  3. Add sliced white onions and chopped green onions.
  4. Gently add boiling broth over the meat and noodles.
  5. Season with sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce, and lime (to taste). Optionally, you can add more fish sauce if preferred.
  6. Add the cilantro, bean sprouts, sliced Jalapenos, and Thai basil leave to the serving.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy!



Pho Dac Biet Calories and Nutrition

A hot, comforting serving of pho dac biet packs about everything you want in a soup; filling meat, salty broth, herbs, spices, vegetables, and rice noodles. A medium-sized serving of pho packs around 450 calories. Pho dac biet is also a good source of protein, which is an essential building block for the body. Protein is used to make muscles, organs, tendons, hormones, and other metabolic processes.

The ingredients in pho provide potential health benefits. The bone broth contains chondroitin, glucosamine, and collagen. These ingredients promote the health of your joints. Ginger contains gingerol, an antioxidant substance that reduces inflammation and may ease joint pains. The vegetables and herbs in pho are highly nutritious. The herbs and vegetables like Thai basil, green onions, chili peppers, and cilantro are rich in nutrients and many anti-inflammatory substances.



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