How to Cook Wild Game Pho with Venison Steak

This Vietnamese noodle soup is comfort food at its best

A warm bowl of pho is a restorative meal on a cold winter night.
A warm bowl of pho is a restorative meal on a cold winter night.Cosmo Genonva

Here are a few things you should know about pho. It’s a Vietnamese noodle soup—typically served with beef, but venison is a great substitute. It’s pronounced fuh, not fo. And, it’s delicious

I started making my own with venison and other game meat a few years ago, and it has become one of my absolute favorite recipes for cold winter nights, as well as for introducing new folks to wild-game cooking. Throughout the hunting seasons, I’ll make a few batches of wild game stock or bone broth to serve as the base for soups and sauces, and with just a few added ingredients you can transform this mother stock into pretty much anything you want. This is a pretty forgiving recipe, so you can substitute or omit most of the ingredients for what you already have in the kitchen and still end up with a killer bowl of pho.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound venison steak, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 thumb ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 quarts of game stock or bone broth
  • 1 package of rice noodles
  • Lettuce, scallion, red onion, bean sprouts, chili sauce, and fresh lime for garnish.

Directions

  1. In a large pot, brown the bacon until the fat renders. Then add the spices, and toast them in the fat until fragrant. Next add the ginger, garlic, and onion, and cook for about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the fish sauce. Add the stock or bone broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for at least an hour. Strain, then transfer back to the pot and set aside over low heat.
  2. Hydrate the rice noodles in the broth, then transfer them to a soup bowl.
  3. Build your bowl of pho: Add the raw venison slices to the bed of noodles and ladle hot broth over top to cook the meat. (You can hit the venison with a blowtorch if the meat doesn’t cook to your liking.) Garnish the bowl with your favorite combination of lettuce, scallions, red onion, lime, bean sprouts, chili sauce, and various other toppings.
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