All the flavor of traditional beef pho with its comforting spices and aromatics done in half the time with your Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker. Instant Pot Beef Pho is Vietnamese comfort food at its best!
To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.
~~ Oscar Wilde
On the threshold of 2016, I am listening to my husband, 4 sons, and 2 daughters-in-love playing Bananagrams at our new home in McAllen, Texas. Our grandson is asleep upstairs. How did this happen? It was not planned. 😯
We said "goodbye" to Nils, Jamie, and Cade on the 26th in the airport in Charlotte - they were en route to Roswell, NM. via Dallas, and we were flying into Harlingen, TX. We went to church Sunday morning, and 3 hours later, we picked them up in the airport in McAllen. After a mechanical issue, thunderstorms, and tornado warnings, they spent the night in Dallas. New Mexico has been hit by a blizzard. Their luggage was lost, and they did their best to salvage their holiday trip when American rerouted them to McAllen.
We had expected Gaelen and his wife Kelsey, and we were blessed to have all of them! So, in the process of trying to feed a family of foodies, buy baby equipment, and keep up with my blog, I managed to tackle Instant Pot Beef Pho. Finding healthy, interesting IP/pressure cooker recipes is a challenge (at best), and I've promised to work on refining some of my own.
Beef pho is Vietnamese comfort food. The fragrant, spice-infused stock, tender beef, rice noodles, crunchy bean sprouts, and fresh herbs are heart-warming; thin-sliced steak added at the last moment adds flavor and texture to this hearty bowl of noodles.
The key to good pho is its stock, and that process typically involves a slow simmer with meaty bones, ginger, garlic, and spices, and requires 3 hours. The IP/pressure cooker cuts this process to 25-33% - 45 minutes to an hour yields rich, flavorful stock, and beef falling off the bones. Make a large batch of stock, remove the bones and spices, and add rice noodles, mung bean sprouts, fresh basil, coriander, and/or mint leaves, and the thin-sliced steak just prior to serving. My 6 quart pressure-cooker easily cooks 9-10 cups of stock... enough for 6 hungry foodies!
The spices used to make pho can vary, but cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and star anise are typical (and mandatory in my opinion). 😀 Occasionally, a recipe will call for other spices such as cardamom and coriander.
Some Asian markets carry a packet of whole spices with a small mesh drawstring bag as a convenient option. These spices are not optional; they are what defines a bowl of pho. While the stock is a bit of work, you can make a large batch, and freeze it for use as desired. Once the stock is made, the balance of the dish comes together quickly.
Even in a border city like McAllen, the local markets carry only a few options for beef bones. I usually end up grabbing whatever I can find. I do like to use some part of the cow that includes some marrow (ie. leg or shin). Oxtail is also a good option. You'll want to include some meatier bones so that your soup has bits of tender beef, but not so much that it's a bowl of beef. 😉
For finishing the soup, I have found that flank or sirloin works well. A partially frozen steak is far easier to slice very thin. The thin-sliced steak essentially poaches in the stock in the last few minutes before serving, or can be added raw to a steaming hot bowl of pho for those that prefer the beef super rare!
The flavor of the stock is vastly improved by charring the onion and ginger that goes into the pot. I no longer have a gas range 😥 , so I quarter my onion, and cut a couple of generous chunks of ginger, and place them under the broiler until the edges are blackened. Watch them carefully, and add them to the pressure-cooker with the beef, bones, water, and spices. Turn the burner or electric cooker to high until pressurized, then lower heat to maintain the pressure. Cook about 45 minutes, then slowly de-pressurize. I lower my stove top cooker from "2" to "1" to vent mode, and turn the heat to "off." Add thin-sliced steak to the hot stock along with the bean sprouts. Meanwhile, cook the noodles and drain. Prep the herbs, slice the steak, and get the condiments out.
To serve, place a generous serving of noodles in each deep soup bowl. Ladle the hot soup over the noodles, and garnish with fresh herbs, and your choice of condiments. This soothing soup is perfect for a chilly winter's night, and the pressure-cooker produces flavorful and tender results in a fraction of the time. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade... or pho!
Perhaps you grew up with a pressure-cooker? I was a little afraid of my mom's pressure-cooker, but modern appliances have built-in safety features. They're a great time-saver - yielding slow-cooked results in a fraction of the time. I hope you'll give this a try!
More Instant Pot Soups
- Pressure Cooker Lamb Stew Provencal
- Pressure Cooker Irish Stew with Lamb and Root Vegetables
- Instant Pot Adzuki Bean Soup with Miso, Winter Squash, and Kale