Bacon is awesome, and so is pho. Match made in heaven. In this recipe for pork pho with bacon, I combine a homemade pork stock made in the pressure cooker (Instant Pot) with bacon, hard-boiled eggs, rice noodles, and traditional pho accompaniments. It’s breakfast in a bowl, but can be enjoyed at any time of day!Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
What is Pho?
Pho is a classic Vietnamese soup that typically requires a highly flavorful long-simmered broth made from meat, bones, and a variety of spices. Traditional varieties include chicken (phở gà) or beef (phở bò). The broth is poured over rice noodles (bánh phở) that can be purchased dried in most grocery stores or fresh from your local Asian market, varied cuts of meat, and is garnished with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, sliced onions and chiles, and hoisin and chili pepper sauces. It is traditionally eaten for breakfast in Vietnam, but makes a wonderfully comforting meal any time of the day.
If you’d like to learn more about pho and where it comes from, I would recommend clicking over to Andrea Nguyen’s blog (https://www.vietworldkitchen.com) or picking up one of her cookbooks. I have read two of her books, Pho and Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, cover to cover, and they’re a wonderful resource for Vietnamese cuisine.
Pork Pho Broth
For this recipe, I make a broth from pork neck bones and bacon in my electric pressure cooker. Mine happens to be a 6 qt Instant Pot Duo, but any pressure cooker will work. Alternatively, the broth can be made on the stovetop. The ingredients are the same and may be doubled if desired, but the cooking time will need to be increased to a low simmer for several hours.
The broth starts by turning the pressure cooker on to sauté and toasting cinnamon sticks, star anise, and whole cloves in the pot dry. Toasting the spices intensifies their flavor. Use whole spices if you can. They can be ordered online if your grocery store doesn’t carry them, and can be stored in a cool dark cupboard for two years without losing flavor. While the spices toast for a few minutes, prepare your aromatics. Quarter an onion and add that to the pot. Peel a 2″ knob of ginger root, cut it into chunks, and bruise them with a meat mallet. Add them to the pot as well and cook for one minute. Pour in a few cups of water to stop the cooking process.
Add pork neck bones (preferably, or you could substitute un-smoked hocks or other bones) along with 3 slices of bacon or a bacon end leftover from slicing homemade bacon. Throw in a diced, cored Fuji apple. Add more water, up to just under the max fill line for your pressure cooker. Add 2 tsp salt. Pressure cook the stock on high for 30 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, keep it on sauté until the liquid starts to boil – this will allow it to come to pressure much more quickly. After the 30 minute pressure cook, allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes. At that point release the remaining pressure manually and strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve.
The stock can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. A layer of fat will rise to the top when the broth cools, and I usually remove this with a spoon. It has great flavor, so don’t throw it out. It can be used to cook other foods in the next day, or added back into the broth when you’re ready to make your pork pho with bacon.
Bacon and Eggs
While the broth is cooking, or the next day if you stopped after the first step, prepare bacon and hard-boiled eggs. Prepare 2 slices of bacon per bowl according to your desired method. My personal favorite is to fry it in a cast-iron pan, but texture isn’t as important in this recipe as it is in others. Baking or even microwaving is acceptable. The bacon should be cooked until crisp but not burnt. I’ll show you how to cook bacon here.
Hard boil one egg per person (or more if you want a few extra). This can be done in the pressure cooker according to the 5-5-5 method. If your stock is still cooking, you can use my tried and true stovetop method. Place eggs in a large pot. Fill to one inch above the eggs with cold water. Turn pot on high. Watch closely until it just begins to boil. As soon as the water begins to boil, place a lid on the pot and turn the burner OFF. Set a timer for 11 minutes. As soon as time is up, take the eggs out with a slotted spoon and place into an ice water bath. J
After 5 minutes in the ice bath, peel your eggs. Older eggs hard boil better. Fresh eggs are very hard to peel, so grocery store eggs are actually preferable to those from the farmer’s market for this recipe. Once peeled, slice them in half and set aside.
Pho Noodles (bánh phở)
Pho isn’t pho without banh pho noodles, just as spaghetti isn’t spaghetti without spaghetti. Banh pho are made from ground white rice and water, and are sold both fresh and dried. Not all rice noodles are appropriate for pho – banh pho are square or rectangular in cross section rather than round. Small and medium width noodles both work well in pho. I tend to use fresh noodles when I’m already at an Asian market picking up other ingredients, but minimal quality is lost with dried. You can learn more about banh pho noodles here if you’re interested.
Cook your noodles according to package directions if available (or check out The Kitchn for general instructions). They are generally an extremely short-cooking noodle – fresh noodles will usually cook in seconds. Rinse them in plenty of water after cooking to prevent sticking, and toss them in a splash of sesame oil if you aren’t going to use them for a while.
Assembly of Pork Pho with Bacon
Heat your pork stock to a simmer, if you haven’t kept it warm. I do this on the stovetop in a large pot, but you can use the sauté function on your Instant Pot if you need to. Taste it. You’re looking for a strongly flavored broth that hits you with sweet, salty, and umami.
Add a piece or two of Chinese yellow rock sugar (looks like rock candy, easily ordered on amazon), or you can substitute a tablespoon of maple syrup. Stir to help it begin to melt and add a tablespoon of fish sauce (ourdailybrine compares several brands – Three Crabs is the most common, but not the best choice). Once the sugar/syrup has melted, taste it again. You’ll need more.
Put together a garnish plate. You don’t need all of these, but should offer the sauces, something sour, something spicy, some crunch, and some fresh herbs.
- Hoisin sauce
- Fish sauce
- Chile sauce (Sriracha and/or sate)
- Lime wedges
- Thinly sliced Serrano peppers, Thai chiles, or jalapeños
- Thinly sliced white onion
- Fresh bean sprouts (not canned)
- Fresh mint
- Fresh cilantro and/or culantro
- Fresh Thai basil
Rewarm your noodles by rinsing them with hot tap water if they’ve been sitting for a few minutes. In each large bowl, place a large pile of piping hot noodles. Top with two halves of a hard-boiled egg. Add two slices of bacon, crumbled. Pour the steaming broth over the top. Serve immediately, and garnish at the table with whatever you like. Enjoy!
Pork Pho with Bacon
Pork Pho Broth
- 2 star anise
- 8-10 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 onion quartered
- 2″ knob ginger peeled, cut into chunks, and bruised
- 3 lb pork bones preferably neck bones
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 Fuji apple cored and diced
- 2 tsp salt plus more to taste
- 2 pieces Chinese yellow rock sugar may substitute 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce plus more to taste
- 8 slices bacon
- 4 eggs
- 1 lb Banh Pho rice noodles
- 1 tsp sesame oil optional
- hoisin sauce
- fish sauce
- chile sauce sriracha or sate
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- 1/2 white onion thinly sliced
- 1 serrano pepper thinly sliced – may substitute Thai chile or jalapeño
- 1/4 lb fresh bean sprouts
- fresh Thai basil
- fresh cilantro or culantro
- fresh mint
Pork Pho Broth
- Turn pressure cooker on to sauté. Add star anise, cloves, and cinnamon to dry pot. Stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes or until aromatic.
- Add quartered onion and bruised, peeled ginger. Cook 1 minute.
- Add pork bones and bacon with a cup or two of water to slow cooking process. Add apple and 2 tsp salt. Cover with water to max fill line. Bring to a boil on sauté to save time, then lock lid and set to pressure cook for 30 minutes.
- Let pressure release naturally for 20 minutes. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Stock may be refrigerated or frozen at this point for later use, or continue with recipe.
- Place broth in large pot over medium heat. Add rock sugar or maple syrup and fish sauce. Taste when sugar has been melted and incorporated. Add more to taste – the goal is a highly flavorful broth.
- Cook bacon using method of choice. Either fry in cast-iron pan over medium heat, starting bacon in cold pan, or bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. This may be done while broth cooks.
- Hard boil 4 eggs. This may be done on stovetop while broth cooks using 11 minute method: Place eggs in pot, cover with water by one Inch. Bring to a boil, watching closely. As soon as eggs boil, place lid and turn heat off. After exactly 11 minutes, move eggs to ice bath. Peel and slice in half.Alternatively use 5-5-5 method in pressure cooker after broth has been made.
- Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Rinse immediately and toss with 1 tsp sesame oil if not using right away.
- In large soup bowl, assemble pho. Place 1/4 cooked noodles in bowl, Crumble in 2 slices bacon. Add one halved hard-boiled egg. Fill bowl with steaming hot broth. Serve with garnishes on side for diners to add.
- Assemble garnishes. Offer bottles or bowls of hoisin, fish sauce, and one or more chile sauces. On a platter, offer lime wedges, sliced onion and peppers, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs.