A few nights ago my husband and I were Skyping with my daughter Erika's Vietnamese friend, Thanh. I've mentioned her before in some of my posts. She is the one who does the AMAZING street food tours in Hanoi. Well, we discussed various things, among them FOOD, of course! She told us "You guys need to make a popular authentic Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad: Pho Tron." This dish is typical of Hanoi" Thanh told us.
We wanted to find out about some popular summer Vietnamese dishes. Yes, we're totally enjoying long summer days here in the northern US. We've waited a long time for this. Anyhow, I don't want do digress. During our conversation she mentioned 3 or 4 recipes that I will making in the coming weeks.
Ahh a Hanoian summer dish
The one I am making today is Pho Tron, it is like a noodle salad of sorts with a broth that is used as a "dressing." Think of it as the Vietnamese version of an American steak salad plus the noodles, but a lot healthier. It is a great dish for hot weather when you cannot sit down to a bowl of hot steaming broth.
Don't let all the steps in this delicious dish discourage you. Really, it's a matter of organization. No complicated techniques here.
Some tips for your pho tron
For the bean sprouts, I suggest you blanch them. And whatever you do, don't skip crisping the shallots; it really adds a lot to the overall texture and flavor of this dish. When we were in Southeast Asia last year, we found that crispy shallots are a common garnish.
By the way if you are looking for another popular Vietnamese dish, check out my recipe for bun cha. It's delicious. Also, many people like to enjoy Chả Giò with light meals, they're Vietnamese fried spring rolls dipped in a tangy sauce.
This recipe is similar to the popular Vietnamese soup Pho; you could even say that Pho Tron is Pho's fair-weather cousin. So basically what you are doing is creating a salad with various pho noodles, greens, beef and a broth like dressing that is a balance of flavors: sweet, salty, and sour. I think I've mentioned before that Southeast Asian food strives to create a balance of flavors. No flavor ever dominates.
Need some more summery flavors for the table? Try my Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Mango Salad. You've never had mangoes like this before.
A Southern Vietnamese variation of this dish, Bún Thịt Nướng, features grilled lemongrass pork instead of beef and a different selection of veggies and herbs. Try it!
Here are the step by step photos to make Pho Tron:
- Gather all your ingredients and have them chopped, measured and ready to go. Make the rice noodles according to the package instructions and then rinse with cold water and set aside. (I like to pour boiling water over them and let them sit for a few minutes until they are just soft and have a bit of chewiness. I then rinse them with cold water in a colander.)
- Mix together the marinade ingredients in a pitcher: Salt, ginger, black pepper, five spice powder, garlic and lime juice.
- Placed the sliced beef in a zip top bag and pour in the marinade.
- Purge the air and seal the bag. Give the bag a few squeezes to coat all the beef.
- To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, fish sauce, palm sugar (brown sugar will work), and tamarind paste.
- Whisk to combine until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the greens to a large bowl.
- Take the chilled blanched bean sprouts and toss with greens.
- Add 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil to a skillet on medium heat and add the shallot slices. Fly them until crispy and brown.
- Place them on a paper towel to drain and cool until ready to serve as a topping for the salad.
- Cook the beef in a large skillet on medium heat with 1 Tbsp canola oil. (You can use the same skillet you just cooked the beef in.) Cook until the beef has browned and has nice crispy edges.
- Serve the greens in a bowl topped with the beef, shallots. Add the broth with the Thai chillies and rice noodles on the side. Enjoy!
This is a really easy recipe to make any weeknight.
I would love it if you leave me a comment AND share the recipe with your friends.
If you enjoyed this alternative pho recipe, check out some authentic Vietnamese recipes I have some to share that you can easily make in your home.
Bun cha: Vietnamese pork meatballs are served with a delicious golden broth, a variety of fresh herbs, greens, and rice noodles.
Vietnamese coconut braised pork (Thit Kho Tau)is slow cooked, tender, salty and sweet.
Cá Sốt Cà Chua or Fish in Tomato Sauce will wow your tastebuds with aromatic dill, sweet tomato, and tangy shallots. Pair it with rice.
Bò Sốt Vang or Vietnamese Beef Stew will blow away any beef stew that you've ever had. The spices in this one are reminiscent of mulled wine and then each bowl is topped with a generous helping of fresh cilantro.
You have to finish off your meal with a traditional Vietnamese Egg Coffee or ca phe trung (cà phê trứng) is a Hanoi espresso with a sweet meringue like topping. Two other Vietnamese coffee drinks that I cannot get enough of are Ca Phe Sua Da or Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Condensed Milk was one of my favorite ways to cool off on a hot day along with Vietnamese Coconut Coffee.
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad: Pho Tron
A perfect meal for any weeknight, or Sunday dinner. The bright flavors of authentic Vietnamese food shine through in this easy to make dish. This has some of the best Vietnamese contrasts of flavors: salty, sour, sweet, bitter and some hot chillies for some heat too!
- 8 oz rice noodles
- 1 head green leaf lettuce
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 12 leaves Thai basil chopped
- 10 mint leaves chopped
- 2 oz bean sprouts blanched
- 2 Tbsp peanuts chopped
- 2 limes cut into wedges
- 4 shallots thinly sliced and quickly fried
- 2 Thai red chilies thinly sliced-optional
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Run under cold water and set aside.
To cook the meat
Slice the beef into very thin pieces. Combine in a pitcher the salt, ginger, pepper, five spice powder, lime juice and garlic powder. Place the meat slices in a zip top bag and pour in the marinade. Purge the air then seal the bag and be sure all the meat is coated. Squeeze the meat around the bag a bit to cover in the marinade. Place in the refrigerator for about two hours.
Heat oil on medium. Add the beef and cook about 1-2 minutes on each side until brown and cripy on the edges. Set the beef aside and allow to cool before serving.
While the meat is resting assemble your greens. Mix lettuce, cilantro, Thai basil, and mint, in a bowl.
- Blanch the bean sprouts, and when completely cool, add to the greens mixture.
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar and the fish sauce. Add in the sugar, and stir well. The flavor should be more along the lines of sweet and sour.
Add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil to a skillet on medium heat and place the shallot slices. Fry until crispy and brown. Remove and dry on a paper towel.
Portion equal amounts of each item on a plate/bowl. Top with peanuts, crispy shallots and slices of Thai chilies if desired. Serve with rice noodles on the side.