The Classics – Pho

Before I get into this week’s challenge, I want to thank everyone that voted for me in round 1 of Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog! I think only 400 bloggers made it through, but I think there were only 655 to start with. With that in mind, the contest goes from 400 to 200 this week, so I need your vote, please!

Fresh Pho Stuff

This challenge has to do with the classics, but pushing ourselves to go out of our comfort zone. I did a bit of both, making pho, a classic Vietnamese beef noodle soup. I found several recipes, which I scanned for the mix of ingredients.

Bundle of spices

The basic ingredients are:


  • 5 lbs of beef bones (leg bones, cut up)
  • 6 quarts of cool water
  • 1 bundle of seasonings (a few cardamom pods, a few star anise, a tablespoon each of cloves, fennel seeds and coriander seeds)
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup or so of fish oil
  • 1 lb of cut up beef
  • 2 onions, slightly charred
  • 1 small nub of ginger, charred
  • sugar to taste

For the rest:

  • Rice noodles
  • 1/2 lb raw beef, sliced very thin
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh bean sprouts
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh Thai basil
  • Srirachi sauce
  • Hoisin sauce

The main source I used for information was Steamy Kitchen’s recipe.


The broth is made over several hours, with all the ingredients in the broth. I removed the beef after a couple of hours and set aside, then simmered the broth for a couple more hours. The noodles are easy; just soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Then load up bowls with noodles and sliced, raw beef and bits of the cooked beef, then add broth. Add the fresh ingredients, sauces and lime to taste, and enjoy!

Making broth

That’s a typical pho, at least… But, being that this is being done on Livefire, I had to at least change something up:

I charred the onion and ginger on the grill, so it had a smokiness to it. Also, and this had the biggest effect on the dish, I smoked the beef for about 20-30 minutes at under 200 degrees. This wasn’t to cook the beef, but to add smoke to the final dish. I just let some pecan smoke permeate the beef for a while, then put it in the fridge until I was ready to slice it. I didn’t do what I’d seen suggested, which was to slightly freeze the beef, nor did I use my meat slicer for it. I just pulled out my trusty Shun chef’s knife and cut the beef as thin as I could.

Onions & Ginger

I ended up with a classic that was also a stretch for me as I’ve never cooked anything Asian at all, and it was great! This is one a meal that just about anyone will enjoy… if you haven’t tried it, give it a shot!

Here’s a quick set of photos on my building of a bowl of pho…

Rice noodles and beef slices
Noodles and Beef

Add broth
Add Broth

Put in some Sriracha

Add Thai basil
Some Thai Basil

Followed by bean sprouts
Bean Sprouts

Then some mint and cilantro (and hoisin)
Mint and Cilantro

And enjoy!
First Bite

When voting is active (sometime on September 27 through September 30, around 9 pm Eastern), click on the widget below to vote, please!

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.


  1. Looks great, but how do we vote? Not to be rude, but that seems like a glaring omission.


  2. Good point, John… I was such a hurry to get things posted, I left that out! Voting will start on Monday, the 27th… I’ll post something when the voting starts!

  3. looks incredible! and beautiful photos, per usual!

    You have my vote again ;)

  4. Just voted for you.

    Fantastic post, the recipe, technique, and photos are top notch as always. Keep up the great work.

  5. It was very yummy. I loved the flavor of the smoked meat. It gave the dish a different layer of flavor.

  6. Your photos are beautiful! Nice presentation of the toppings and spices. You’ve got our vote, hope it helps!

    Lick My Spoon

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