Instant Pot Vietnamese Beef Pho

Oh man, Vietnamese Pho is one of my go-to comfort foods with its layers of unaminess, richness and freshness. Just thinking about it makes me drool 😋 It is beginning to feel like fall in New England and it seemed appropriate to try to recreate the Pho I’ve experienced at Saigon & Tokyo in Dover, New Hampshire and after some research, I learned that the instant pot works fabulously for this bowl of dreams. And you know me, I LOVE my instant pot about as much as I LOVE Asian food. I’m excited to bring you one of my absolute favorites and I’m thrilled a Beef Pho broth can be created in 90 minutes since the traditional method takes between 6-7 hours.

What I love about Pho is THAT BROTH and THE VEGGIES & HERBS that accompany the bowl ❤ The broth is so layered in flavor, absolutely delicious and full of unaminess. The veggies and herbs that float in the broth are full of freshness, making this a bowl of dreams. I don’t remember the first time I experienced this magical bowl of greatness, but it has stuck with me ever since because it’s AMAZING. If you haven’t experienced Pho, you are COMPLETELY MISSING OUT BECAUSE IT IS SO DELICIOUS. Please go to your nearest Vietnamese restaurant or try my scratch Instant Pot version 🙏

The traditional elements of Pho include a broth made from spices, bones and charred or roasted ginger and onion. Accompanying the bowl of broth includes meat, noodles, veggies & herbs and condiments ❤ Below I plan to share a bit more about these elements, which creates the dreamy soupy noodle bowl 😋

Pho Spices can include star anise, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds/pods, fennel seeds, cloves and cardamom. I’m using star anise, cinnamon stick and coriander seeds in my first Instant Pot version of Pho.

That’s white sugar, since I didn’t have rock sugar. Yes, I know rock sugar is traditional, but you can substitute if needed.

Pho Bones – The bones in a Pho are key in developing flavor. When conducting my research for this post, knuckle bones and oxtail kept appearing as the suggested bones for the broth. The reason being, they’re full of gelatin which gives richness to your broth. I wasn’t able to find knuckle bones or oxtail, but I did find Beef Marrow Bones, Beef Bones and Beef Short Ribs and I thought I couldn’t go wrong adding a combination of the three because in the end it will be a flavorful broth for my Pho and it ABSOLUTELY HIT THE MARK 👍 The next time I try this recipe, I might try more traditional bones from an Asian market to see how it compares to the combination I used.

Charred or Roasted Ginger & Onion – This is another key element of your Pho. Charring or roasting your ginger and onion gives your broth a natural sweetness through all that richness. You could char over the open flame on your stove or opt for the easier oven roasting version, which I did 👍

Make sure you get those charred juices into your broth!

Pho Meat – For the meat in your bowl, you could use a thinly sliced flank steak, london broil, sirloin, eye of round or tri-tip or instead of raw beef slices, beef balls (Bo Vien) are also an option. Bo Vien is my absolute favorite and I would’ve made my own Vietnamese Beef Balls if I had more time this weekend. You can be sure Bo Vien Pho will make an appearance this fall or winter when I try this recipe again. Short Ribs will be the meat in our bowl, since that cooked beautifully tender in the Instant Pot.

Pho Noodles – Vietnamese beef noodle soups typically involve rice noodles, which you should be able to find at your local grocery store or an Asian market. You can get rice noodles in various widths and thickness. In my pantry I have medium ✔

Pho Veggies & Herbs – This adds the freshness to your bowl and makes the bowl complete in my opinion. I love when that side plate comes at Saigon & Tokyo and actually get quite giggy ❤

Look at that side plate and delicious Phở Tái Bò Viên from Saigon Tokyo 😋

Common veggies & herbs you might see on your side plate include:

  • Thai Basil, not to be confused with Sweet or Italian Basil
  • Fresh Thai Chili Peppers, or Jalapeno Peppers
  • Green Onions
  • White Onions
  • Lime Wedges 🍈
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Cilantro or Coriander Leaves

I plan to use Jalapeno Pepper, Green Onions, Lime Wedges, Bean Sprouts and Cilantro. The next time I create this meal, I’ll be visiting an Asian market for Thai Basil and Chili Pepper because they’re a favorite when I enjoy Pho.

Pho Condiments – If you visit a Vietnamese restaurant you’ll likely find a Hoisin Sauce and a Hot Sauce, like Sriracha. Hoisin Sauce will add sweetness and saltiness and of course Sriracha will add heat to your broth. I always add Sriracha to amp up the heat in the bowl.

I am so excited to share this recipe and I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

  • For my broth
    • 4 Beef Short Ribs
    • 2 1/2lbs of Beef Marrow Bones
    • 2 Beef Bones
    • 8 cups of water
      • Start with 6 cups and add additional cups once the ingredients are in your pot.
    • 1 Roasted Ginger Root, sliced in half
    • 1 Roasted White Onion, sliced in half
    • 10 Star Anise
    • 1 Cinnamon Stick
    • 1TBS of Coriander Seeds
    • 1 lump of rock sugar or 1TBS of white sugar
    • 5TBS of fish sauce
      • You could start with 3TBS and add additional fish sauce as desired.
      • I like fist sauce and went with 4 during the cooking and added an additional 1TBS when it was completed.
    • 1TBS of sea salt
  • Rice Noodles
  • Veggies & Herbs you can include:
    • Thai Basil, not to be confused with Sweet or Italian Basil
    • Fresh Thai Chili or Jalapeno Peppers
    • Green Onions
    • White Onions
    • Lime Wedges 🍈
    • Bean Sprouts
    • Cilantro or Coriander Leaves

Instructions

First Step – The Beef Broth

  • Begin by parboiling your beef bones because this removes the impurities like blood particles and extra fat. In a large pot, add your bones and cover with cold water. Place your pot on the stovetop and boil for 20 minutes. During this step, you’ll see a pink or gray foam on the surface as you boil, remove that foam as it appears. This extra step of boiling your bones, will create a more pure and clean-tasting broth.
  • Meanwhile, char or roast your ginger and onion.
  • Once the bones have been parboiled, strain the bones from the liquid and rinse with cold water to remove those impurities.
  • Add the bones to your instant pot with 6 cups of water. Note: You’ll add more water, but you don’t want to overfull before adding your remaining ingredients to the pot.
  • To the instant pot, add your charred or roasted ginger & onion, your spices (i.e. star anise, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds), rock or white sugar, fish sauce and salt salt. Add another cup or two of water to reach your max line.
That’s 8 cups of water in my pot

  • After stirring the bones, place the lid on your instant pot and set to stew for 90 minutes and time for the magic happen 😉
  • Once the broth is completed, release the pressure. Note: I would suggest naturally releasing the pressure since you have a full pot of VERY hot broth. When you remove the lid, let those amores full your kitchen.
Look how the star anise expanded

  • Now strain your broth into a large pot, holding onto your meat bones because the short ribs and marrow are needed for your bowl of Pho.
Never fear, I have a mesh strainer below this one 😉

Clear and full of favor!

  • You can either skim the fat off the broth at this time or place the broth in the refrigerator and let the fat solidify, which will make it easier to remove.
Nice and solidified after a night in the refrigerator 👍

Second Step – Prepare the Ingredients for your Pho Bowl

  • Prepare your noodles, as directed.
  • Prepare your raw meat, beef balls, shred the meat you cooked while creating your broth and/or remove the marrow (this will add a buttery component to your Pho) from the beef bones and set aside.
Look how tender the short ribs got 😋

  • Time to warm your broth.
  • Prepare your veggies and herbs for presentation.
    • Cut your pepper into thin rings or remove the seeds and veins for less heat.
    • Line up the green onions and thinly slice them using a circular motion with your knife.
    • Cut your lime into wedges
    • Glab a handful of bean sprouts.
    • Remove the cilantro leaves from the stem.

Third Step – Assemble your Bowls & Perfect

Now you’re ready to experience this delicious bowl of HEAVEN. I would suggest assembling as follows:

1. Add your noodles to the base of your bowl using a circular motion to create the mound of noodles.

2. Now add your meat to the bowl. If you’re using raw meat, you’ll want to lay the thin meat strips across your bowl to ensure the hot broth cooks the meat slightly.

The beige balls are the bone marrow

3. Now it is time to top with your beef broth. You’ll want to cover your noodles and meat.

4. At this point, you want to add your veggies and adjust flavors as needed. If it needs heat, add some hot sauce; if it needs sweetness, add hoisin sauce: if it needs some additional unaminess, add additional fish sauce.

5. Now enjoy your delicious bowl of Pho and cheers 😋

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