Vietnamese Mom’s One-Of-A-Kind Crispy Noodle & Beef Pho

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Ingredients:

1 package of large dried Phở noodles (or you can buy them fresh)

1/2 head of cabbage, chopped in bite size pieces 

2 carrots, sliced in 2 inch pieces

6 baby bok choy bulbs, chopped in bite size pieces

1 head broccoli, cut in bite size pieces

1 lb. thinly sliced beef (any cut you prefer)

4 stalks green onion, sliced in 2 inch pieces

1/2 yellow onion, sliced

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

3 tbsp. oyster sauce

2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. fish sauce

3 tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup water

Vegetable oil

Handful of cilantro, chopped

Lime wedges

preparing ingredients for Vietnamese pan fried noodles
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

Cookware:

Wok or large pan

cutting board

chef’s knife

strainer

Instructions:

1. Cook the noodles according to instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water, set aside.

noodles boiling in pot
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen
washing noodles with cold water after cooking
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

2. Marinate the beef with oyster sauce and garlic in a bowl.

cutting beef into bite size pieces
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen
chopping garlic on cutting board
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen
marinating beef in bowl to make pan fried noodles
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

3. While waiting, prepare the vegetables accordingly.

chopping cabbage on cutting board
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen
chopping veggies on cutting board
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

4. Fill a large wok 1/3 of the way with vegetable oil and heat until hot. Add noodles in an even layer and fry. Cook for 5-10 minutes until crispy. Be sure you don’t overcook. I like to keep the other side slightly soft so I don’t flip it. The middle should still be chewy. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.

pan frying noodles in oil
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

5. Mix cornstarch with water in a bowl and set aside.

making thick cornstarch mixture in bowl
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

6. Remove oil from wok, leaving about 5 tablespoons. Drop in all the vegetables along with soy sauce and fish sauce. Toss for a few minutes.

chopped up vegetables in strainer
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen
sautéing vegetables in the pan with tongs
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

7. Add the marinated meat and cook until browned.

sautéing the beef with vegetables in a pan
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

8.Pour in the cornstarch mixture and toss to coat until thickened into a gravy.

adding cornstarch mixture into beef and vegtables
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

9. Cut the fried pho noodles in large 2 inch squares. Add 4-5 pieces to a bowl. Top with the meat and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve with lime.

final product of Vietnamese pan fried noodles
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

About This Recipe

I find the most interesting recipes to be those that carry the past, present, and future of a culture in one dish. The ones that have layers of flavor you can feel and techniques you can taste; food that talks to you through memories. Phở Áp Chảo (Vietnamese Pan-Fried Rice Noodles with Sautéed Beef and Vegetables) was the last recipe my mom ever taught me how to make before she passed in 2020, and this is the first time I’ve ever brought myself to make it on my own. It felt like the longer I let the memory of that experience linger, the longer her presence would stay in my mind.

mother bathes her baby girl in the sink of a bathroom
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

My parents are war refugees who came to the U.S. as many of the Vietnamese diaspora did in the 70s. They brought along just a humble amount of personal items to get by in their hands as well as memories and recipes like this in their hearts. They sacrificed their lives for a fresh start, but not at the expense of forgetting where they came from, which is why documenting family recipes is so important to me.

What makes this dish unique is not only the clear influence other cultures have had on Vietnamese cuisine, but my mom’s own spin on it which incorporates a slight tomato base with Phở broth on the side that she served with lime wedges. She used to pour the soup over the crispy noodles so they’d soften. My recipe is a simplified take between a more traditional recipe with ingredients inspired by my mom. It truly is a representation of how food can evolve over time, yet maintain its essence, similar to our family history.

mother sits with her baby girl on her lap
Courtesy of Ly Nguyen

Phở (Vietnamese Noodle Soup) is arguably the most well known dish from Vietnam, but this lesser known pan-fried version holds so much more significance for me. I’ve never found any restaurant that makes it the same way my mom did, and I know I never will. Every time I have any variation of it, I can’t help but think of her. I’ve been documenting recipes like this one for my daughter over the last two years, and my hope is that when she gets older, she’ll find the same comfort and love in the way my food will speak to her. Recipes that will tell her stories that existed long before me and remind her of a collection of past memories that are also a part of who she is. 

final product of Vietnamese pan fried noodles

Vietnamese Crispy Noodle & Beef Pho Recipe

"I've never found any restaurant that makes it the same way my mom did, and I know I never will."
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese

Equipment

  • Wok or large pan
  • strainer
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Tongs

Ingredients
  

  • 1 package large dried Phở noodles (or you can buy them fresh)
  • 1/2 head of cabbage (chopped in bite size pieces)
  • 2 carrots (sliced in 2-inch pieces)
  • 6 baby bok choy bulbs (chopped in bite size pieces)
  • 1 head broccoli (cut in bite size pieces)
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced beef (any cut you prefer)
  • 4 stalks green onion (sliced in 2-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 yellow onion (sliced)
  • 1 tbsp. garlic (minced)
  • 3 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • vegetable oil
  • handful of cilantro (chopped)
  • lime wedges

Instructions
 

  • Cook the noodles according to instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water, set aside.
  • Marinate the beef with oyster sauce and garlic in a bowl.
  • While waiting, prepare the vegetables accordingly.
  • Fill a large wok 1/3 of the way with vegetable oil and heat until hot. Add noodles in an even layer and fry. Cook for 5-10 minutes until crispy. Be sure you don’t overcook. I like to keep the other side slightly soft so I don't flip it. The middle should still be chewy. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.
  • Mix cornstarch with water in a bowl and set aside.
  • Remove oil from wok, leaving about 5 tablespoons. Drop in all the vegetables along with soy sauce and fish sauce. Toss for a few minutes.
  • Add the marinated meat and cook until browned.
  • Pour in the cornstarch mixture and toss to coat until thickened into a gravy.
  • Cut the fried pho noodles in large 2 inch squares. Add 4-5 pieces to a bowl. Top with the meat and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve with lime.
Keyword beef pho, crispy noodles, vietnamese

This recipe was submitted to Love What Matters by Ly Nguyen. You can follow her on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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