Typical pho is off-limits on a paleo diet, mainly due to the rice noodles (paleo does not allow for most grains, and that includes rice) so you have to get creative to make pho that is paleo. It can definitely be done though. You can either skip the noodles entirely, and just add a few extra vegetables to go with the meat in your pho, or figure out a way to make noodles that aren’t grain-based. We’re taking the second approach here, and you’ll need a kitchen spiralizer to make the most of it. A grater may work in a pinch if you want to experiment with paleo pho.
- 1 quart beef broth
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger root
- 1 small white onion
- 2 whole star anise stars
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp coriander seed
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 cardamom pod
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 piece of beef flank steak
- Sliced hot peppers
- Sliced limes
- Fresh basil leaves
- Fresh mint leaves
- Bean sprouts
Get your broth simmering in a stock pot and add all of the spices. You can tie them up in a cheesecloth bag to help get them out later, but that’s up to you. While that is simmering, peel the ginger and char it along with the onion. When nicely blackened up, toss them into the broth too.
Let everything cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Keep an eye on it, and skim off any fat or foam that accumulates on the top. If you are using boxed broth, this probably won’t be an issue. Homemade beef broth will need extra fat removed for clear pho.
While the broth is cooking, it’s time to make up the rest of your pho components. Sear the meat briefly so that its cooked or browned on the outside but mainly rare on the inside. Slice thinly and set that aside for your pho bowls. Use your spiralizer to make “noodles” out of the zucchini.
When your broth is done, strain out the spices, ginger and onion chunks. Add the fish sauce at this point. Get it heating to a really hot boil, and prepare your bowls. Split your zucchini noodles between 2 bowls, and top with slices of meat. Pour very hot broth over everything and let it set for a minute or two to let things heat up and do a little more cooking.
If you find this method leaves you with noodles that aren’t soft enough, you can add them directly to the pot of broth to cook a little before making up the bowls.
Serve up your bowls of paleo pho with a platter of garnishes, and enjoy.
Don’t have a spiralizer, you can get one at Amazon or make finely sliced zucchini with a box grater. For paleo cooking, I’d recommend the spiralizer for more of these veggie noodles. It’ll come in handy.