Vietnamese Beef Pho
Experience the magic of one of the greatest soups in the world with this easy to follow traditional recipe! The depth of flavour in the broth will blow you away - it looks so clear and light but it's packed with flavour!
Heat a heavy based skillet over high heat (no oil) until smoking.
Place onion and ginger in pan cut side down. Cook for a few minutes until it's charred, then turn. Remove and set aside.
Toast Spices lightly in a dry skillet over medium high heat for 3 minutes.
Rinse bones & brisket then cover with water in large stock pot.
Boil for 5 minutes, then drain.
Rinse each bone and brisket under tap water.
Wipe pot clean, bring 3.5 litres / 3.75 quarts water to boil.
Add bones and brisket, onion, ginger, Spices
Add onion, ginger, Spices, sugar and salt - water should just barely cover everything.
Cover with lid, simmer 3 hours.
Remove brisket (should be fall-apart tender), cool then refrigerate for later.
Simmer remaining soup UNCOVERED for 40 minutes.
Strain broth into another pot, discard bones and spices. Should be about 2.5 litres / 2.65 quarts (10 cups), if loads more, reduce.
Add fish sauce, adjust salt and sugar if needed. Broth should be beefy, fragrant with spices, savoury and barely sweet.
Prepare rice noodles per packet, just prior to serving.
Place noodles in bowl. Top with raw beef and brisket.
Ladle over about 400 / 14 oz hot broth - will cook beef to medium rare.
Serve with Toppings on the side!
* Optional (the other Toppings are essential, at least 1 herb)
1. Bones & brisket for broth
Brisket - don't skip this, adds way more flavour into broth than any bones and other beef cuts like chuck (brisket has intense beef flavour). If omitted, broth is weak. Leftovers not wasted - see in post for easy, really terrific ways to use up. Also FREEZES for months.
Brisket sub - boneless beef short ribs
Leftover cooked beef - see below recipe card for uses, also this Vietnamese Shredded Beef I shared specifically to use the leftover cooked beef!
Marrow bones add richness to the broth but not as much flavour. Use leg bones, knuckle, anything that is cut in a way so you can SEE some of the marrow (so it can leach out).
Marrow bones can be subbed with more meaty beef bones but soup may lack richness.
Australia - meaty bones used are called "soup bones" at supermarkets. Brisket and marrow bones from butcher.
2. Fish Sauce - can sub with light soy but flavour will be a tiny bit different. Still VERY tasty.
3. Noodles - any flat rice noodles fine here. Use medium size - not super thin like vermicelli or really wide like Pad See Ew.
4. Finely sliced beef - Partially freeze (about 30 minutes), then slice as thinly as possible. Could also buy thinly sliced frozen beef from Asian butchers.
Other tender beef also ok. PS If raw beef is off putting for you, just dunk in soup broth before adding into bowls.
5. Serving - Traditionally, the soup is served with just noodles, broth and beef with all the Toppings listed above on the side. The idea is to help yourself to Toppings as you eat the Pho.
2 large onions , halved
150g / 5oz ginger , sliced down the centre
10 star anise
4 cinnamon quills
4 cardamon pods
3 cloves (the spice cloves!)
1.5 tbsp coriander seeds
BEEF BONES (NOTE 1):
1.5kg / 3lb beef brisket
1kg / 2lb meaty beef bones
1kg / 2lb marrow bones (leg, knuckle), cut to reveal marrow
3.5 litres / 3.75 quarts water (15 cups)
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp salt
40 ml / 3 tbsp soya sauce
NOODLE SOUP - PER BOWL:
50g / 1.5 oz dried rice sticks (or 120g/4oz fresh) (Note 3)
30g / 1 oz beef tenderloin, raw, very thinly sliced (Note 4)
3 - 5 brisket slices (used for broth)
Thai basil, 3 - 5 sprigs
Coriander/cilantro, 3 - 5 sprigs (or more basil)
Finely sliced red chilli*
Sriracha* (for spiciness)