Pho is full of the haunting flavors of star anise, cloves, and cinnamon. The boiling broth cooks beef in the bowl, infusing it with flavor. Beef must be cut very thin to cook properly.
Note: Nom Pla is the name of the Asian fish sauce and it can be found in the International aisle. Flat rice noodles can be used in place of rice vermicelli. Be sure to rinse and drain the bean sprouts.
1. Prepare pho. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ginger, medium onion, and shallot, and saute untillightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add fivespice powder, cloves, and cinnamon stick, and saute 1 minute. Add broth and black pepper and bring to a boil, about 10 minutes. Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. Pour broth through a strainer into a bowl, pressing on solids with the back of a spoon. Discard solids, rinse out pan, and return strained broth to pan. Stir in nom pla and sugar. Keep broth warm over low heat.
2. Wrap steak in plastic wrap and place in freezer to firm for slicing, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a wide bowl with hot tap water. Add noodles and soak to soften, about 20 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain. While theyre soaking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
3. Halve firmed flank steak lengthwise, then slice thinly across the grain. Set aside.
4. Prepare garnishes. Arrange mint, cilantro, basil, scallions, bean sprouts, chili pepper, and lime wedges on a large platter or in small bowls for serving.
5. Cook noodles in pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Theyll become very soft. Drain immediately and divide noodles among 6 soup bowls. Divide raw steak slices into 6 portions and lay them flat on top of noodles, then scatter some of the sliced small onion over the steak. Bring broth back to a rolling boil. Ladle boiling broth into each bowl (the broth will cook the steak).
6. Serve immediately, with platter or bowls of garnishes, chili sauce, and hoisin sauce on the side. This soup may be eaten with a soupspoon and a pair of chopsticks.
Source: Hannaford fresh Magazine, May - June 2009