Satisfyingly Light Vietnamese Pho Recipe
If there’s a dish that Vietnamese cuisine is most known for, it’s a steaming and comforting bowl of pho (pronounced as “fuh”). Considered Vietnam’s national dish,1 pho begins with tender rice noodles and thinly sliced raw beef. Hot and flavorful broth is poured over these ingredients, cooking the beef.2Finishing touches include herbs, bean sprouts, scallions, chili peppers, lime wedges and other garnishes.3
If you want to bring the flavors of Vietnam into your home, try making this Satisfyingly Light Vietnamese Pho Recipe. The harmony between savory, sweet and spicy flavors makes this a very unique dish that’s perfect for sharing or as an individual serving. Plus, instead of rice noodles, it uses healthier and lighter shirataki noodles.
Cooking Time: 3 to 4 minutes Total time: 6 Minutes
- 3 to 4 beef soup bones
- 1 large onion, halved and charred
- 3 to 4 slices of fresh ginger
- 1/2 Tbsp. Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan salt
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 pod star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 3 whole cloves
Assembly ingredients for 1 serving:
- Shirataki noodles, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 lb. raw, grass fed flank steak, thinly sliced
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 2 Tbsp. scallions, sliced
- 3 Thai basil leaves (optional)
- 3 to 4 slices of jalapeno (optional)
- Place beef bones in large pot and cover with 4 quarts of cold filtered water. Cook on high heat and bring it to a boil. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes. During this time, foam (or scum) will be released and rise to the top.
- Drain the bones, discard the water and rinse the bones with warm water. Scrub your stockpot to remove any residue that was left behind.
- Add the bones back to the stockpot and cover with 4 quarts of cold filtered water. Bring to a boil and then lower to a gentle simmer.
- Place halved onions and sliced ginger on baking sheet and broil on high for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally so they can brown or char on all sides.
- Add star anise, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds and whole cloves to a dry frying pan. Place onto low heat and cook until fragrant. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Place toasted spices into an herb sachet or cheesecloth then tie with twine to seal.
- Add salt, fish sauces, sachet of spices, charred onion and ginger to the stockpot.
- Continue to simmer broth uncovered for 6 hours. If at any time foam or scum rises to the surface, skim it out with a spoon.
- Carefully remove bones, sachet of spices, onion and ginger from the broth. Then strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer.
- The broth will have a layer of fat. You can either skim the surface of the broth using a spoon or you can refrigerate the broth overnight and as the broth cools, the fat will solidify on the surface, making it easy to remove.
- Place broth over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Arrange shirataki noodles and raw meat into the bowls, then top with hot broth.
- Let the noodles and beef sit in the hot broth for 1 to 2 minutes, until the raw meat is no longer pink and the noodles are cooked.
- Add bean sprouts, Thai basil, jalapeno slices and scallions, and enjoy!
A Simply Pho-nemonal Vietnamese Pho Recipe (Pun Intended)
If you’re trying Southeast Asian food for the first time, this Satisfyingly Light Vietnamese Pho Recipe is an excellent introduction. Not only is a warm bowl of pho delicious, but you can also reap many nutrients that may boost your wellbeing.
Add your own twist to this recipe by using grass fed chicken bones instead of beef to make pho broth,4 or by adding grass fed chicken breast and/or unpasteurized eggs as garnishes. Take a cue from stalls in Vietnam nowadays that offer a variety of pho choices, so you shouldn’t feel bad if your finished product isn’t as “traditional.”5
Shirataki Noodles Spell Good News for Your Health
What makes this pho unique is the use of shirataki noodles instead of traditional rice noodles. Also called konjac noodles or miracle noodles, shirataki noodles are long, white and translucent, and are made from the glucomannan fiber from the konjac plant’s root. These noodles contain 97 percent water, 3 percent fiber, virtually no calories or digestible carbs, plus numerous health benefits your body will thank you for. Glucomannan fiber, which is the base of the noodles, has been linked to various health benefits:
- Weight loss: Studies show that consuming this fiber before eating a high-carb meal can lower the body’s levels of ghrelin, or hunger hormone. Glucomannan was also revealed to help reduce fasting levels when taken daily for a month.
- Reduced cholesterol levels: This is done by raising the amount of cholesterol excreted in the stool, leaving less cholesterol to be absorbed in the bloodstream.
- Lowered blood sugar and insulin levels
- Constipation relief and improved bowel movements
Glucomannan fiber is a viscous fiber that can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water. As a result, shirataki noodles can move through your digestive system slowly, allowing you to feel full and delaying nutrient absorption into the bloodstream.6
Shirataki noodles are considered resistant starches, because these are soluble and can act as prebiotics that feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. You can also eat more of them without feeling discomfort and gassiness, as the noodles are fermented very slowly. Resistant starches are also able to:7
- Add significant bulk to stools and help maintain regular bowel movements
- Prevent blood sugar spikes, since they’re not digested
- Improve insulin regulation, resulting in a lowered risk of insulin resistance
You can eat shirataki noodles either cold or hot. If you’re eating them cold, drain, rinse (to remove most of the slightly fishy konjac root odor) and dress with your preferred seasoning.
On the other hand, for hot noodles, add them to a pot of homemade broth to let the noodles soak up the flavor. For a more regular noodle texture, heat in an ungreased skillet for a few minutes. This will allow some of the water in the noodles to evaporate, removing some of that mushy and gel-like texture.
Bank on Grass Fed Beef for Meaty Goodness
Unlike meat from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that are most likely to be contaminated with harmful bacteria strains and contain traces of artificial ingredients, growth hormones and artificial drugs, grass fed beef is not only safer, but delivers these nutrients, too:
|Heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids||Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium||Vitamin E and B vitamins|
|Beta-carotene||Vaccenic acid||Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)|
Ideally, purchase grass fed beef from local organic farmers and ranchers. These people often run small biodynamic farms that tend to be cleaner, since the animals aren’t crammed in massive feedlots. Plus, animals raised in these environments have a lower possibility of harboring harmful pathogens. Cows in these farms, because they have access to grass (a staple in their natural diet), also tend to have better health and meat quality.
If there are no organic farmers and ranchers in your area, you can buy from grocery chains, too, but make sure to check for these labels first:
- 100% USDA Organic: No antibiotics were used at any stage of production
- “No antibiotics administered” and other similar labels: Especially when accompanied with a “USDA Process Verified” shield, having these labels means that antibiotics weren’t used at any stage of production
- “Grass fed” label alongside the USDA Organic label: No antibiotics were used at all, although if the grass fed label appears alone, antibiotics may have been used.
- “American Grassfed” and “Food Alliance” Grass fed labels: Animals were both fed grass and did not receive antibiotics. Although this is the best among all these labels, it’s still in its early stages of development so it’s not as widespread yet.
These Spices in Your Pho Are Simply Fantastic
Whether they’re added to the soup broth or used as a garnish, these spices are double-duty, providing impeccable flavors and important health benefits:
- Ginger: This popular root crop has shown to help relieve nausea, morning sickness and motion sickness. Studies also associate regular ginger intake with helping reduce muscle soreness and swelling (like knee pain8) and boosting agility and movement. Other research also indicates that ginger can help decrease fasting blood sugar levels among diabetics9 and boost attention and cognitive processing capabilities.
- Cloves: These can enhance digestion by stimulating secretion of digestive enzymes, boost the immune system and provide the organs, especially the liver, with a potent defense against free radicals.10 Cloves also help control blood sugar levels, preserve density and mineral content in bones and treat gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. Lastly, cloves have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties.
- Jalapeno: Chili peppers like jalapeno were found to help fight inflammation, enhance immunity, protect the heart, lower insulin levels, prevent sinusitis and relieve congestion.11 A compound called capsaicin in chili peppers may be beneficial for weight loss, since it can aid in reducing calorie intake and shrinking fat tissue.12
Capsaicin also contributes to the peppers’ pain-relieving abilities, especially against arthritis and neuropathic pain, and among dermatologic conditions that can trigger painful itching. Research has shown that capsaicin may help prevent the growth of breast cancer cells as well.13
- 1 “The History and Evolution of Pho: A Hundred Years’ Journey,” Loving Pho, April 8, 2009
- 2, 3, 4 Christensen, “How To Make Quick Vietnamese Beef Noodle Pho,” Kitchn, January 21, 2017
- 5 “History of Pho: The Story Behind Vietnam’s Bowl of Happiness,” Project Bly, July 31, 2014
- 6 Spritzler, “Shirataki Noodles: The Zero-Calorie ‘Miracle’ Noodles,” Authority Nutrition
- 7 Wanjek, “Resistant’ Starches Heal the Colon, Prevent Cancer & Diabetes,” Live Science, February 27, 2013
- 8 Altman, RD. and Marcussen, KC., “Effects of a Ginger Extract on Knee Pain in Patients With Osteoarthritis,” Arthritis and Rheumatism
- 9 Iran J Pharm Res. 2015 Winter; 14(1): 131–140.
- 10 “Zingiber officinale Improves Cognitive Function of the Middle-Aged Healthy Women,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- 11 “13 Surprising Benefits Of Cloves,” Organic Facts
- 12 “Chili Pepper, Dried,” The World’s Healthiest Foods
- 13 “Proteomic Analysis for Antiobesity Potential of Capsaicin on White Adipose Tissue in Rats Fed With a High Fat Diet.,” Journal of Proteome Research