My Berlinisch Pho Bo

Aug 26, 2015

It’s a good time of the year to miss Berlin. I’m sure that at a first glance it might seem that there is no apparent reason why Berlin should come up in a post linked to a Vietnamese soup, especially since there are other dishes far more fitting to evoke this city, such as say, Pfannkuchen or Currywurst. But the truth is that for me, Pho Bo brings back the taste of Berlin every time I make it. And that’s probably because there are quite a few places in Berlin that serve really good Pho.

Let’s talk a bit about the soup; simply put, Pho Bo is a Vietnamese beef noodle soup. It’s a simple soup, yet it has a lot of flavor from the ginger, star anise and mint leaves. I also think it’s quite sophisticated, as the strips of beef are added raw to the bowl and the meat only cooks from the hot soup that gets ladled on top of them.

What’s great about this soup, aside from the fact that it’s delightful, is that it’s ready in minutes. You just have to bring the stock to a boil along with the onion, fish sauce, ginger and star anise, then add to the bowls with bean sprouts and beef, sprinkle some freshly chopped mint and coriander on top and squeeze some lime juice. I omitted the noodles this time, as I wanted a lighter version. But feel free to add some rice noodles to the pot when the soup starts to boil.

And in all honesty, I kind of miss Berlin at all times of the year. So making this soup helped with that a little. And if you go to Berlin and you’re in the mood for Vietnamese food, this is a great place.

Pho Bo

(Serves four as a starter or two as main course)

1,5l/6 cups chicken stock

2 onions, finely chopped (preferably yellow onions)

8-10 fine slices of fresh ginger

1 star anise

2 Tblsp fish sauce

A large handful of bean sprouts, washed and drained

300g/10 oz beef fillet, finely sliced

A small bunch of mint, finely chopped

A small bunch of coriander, finely chopped

1-2 limes, halved or quartered

In a pot set over high heat, put stock, ginger, onions and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. Divide your bean sprouts and the beef slices between your bowls, then ladle the soup over. Sprinkle with mint and coriander, the squeeze some lime juice. Enjoy!

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