2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 slices fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 cups chicken broth
2 whole star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
4 small heads baby bok choy, cut into 2-inch pieces
16 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 ounces flat rice noodles
1 large carrot, julienned
1 8-ounce package baked tofu, sliced
2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed
4 large scallions, sliced on a diagonal
2 large limes, halved and sliced
In a 2-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, then sauté the ginger and garlic just until fragrant, about a minute. Add the stock, anise, cinnamon, peppercorns and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer and lower heat to keep it at a gentle bubble. Cook for 20 minutes. The stock will reduce to about 7 cups.
While the stock simmers, chop the bok choy, prep the shrimp, and have all the vegetables in separate piles on a plate. Cook the noodles, and divide them between six wide soup bowls. Arrange the tofu and bean sprouts on top of the noodles.
When the stock is ready, strain it, taste for salt, adding more fish sauce if you think it needs it, and bring it to a boil. When you’re ready to serve, simmer shrimp, bok choy and carrot in the stock until cooked, about 3 minutes, then ladle the hot soup over the noodles, tofu and sprouts. Sprinkle with scallions, and serve with lime slices.
Tips: Few things are more satisfying than a big bowl of pho, served hot. This quick-to-make version takes the broth out of the realm of “weekend project” into “weeknight meal.” Set out bowls of chopped peanuts, shredded or quick-pickled daikon and Sriracha or hoisin sauce so your guests can customize their pho.