By Lili Tu
There are 5 basic spices in Pho – cloves, star anise, cassia barks, cardamom, and coriander seeds. Fennel, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns can be added if you wish but never lemongrass.
To balance all those flavours is not an easy job but you are in full control of your creation. While using the pre-pack spices pouch, they have done most of the hard work for you, but it’s their blend.
You can find Spices for Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup in most Asian groceries. Each package contains 6 spices: star anise, cinnamon, cardamon, clove, coriander seeds and fennel seeds. Please refer to our Phở recipe for the right portion to use for each cooking.
They can also be used in other dishes such as Vietnamese Beef Stew. Reseal the bag after opening or bottle them and keep them in a cool and dry place. They will last for months.
When running out of time, we do use the commercial spices pouch. Pho Saigon has a good balance but you need to be careful when taking it out of the stock as the cloth could easily break.
Pho Hoa has a stronger cover, gives you a peace of mind but it is a very different blend.
Just a note, don’t use the pre-pack for Chicken Pho noodle soup as it required less amount of spices.