Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

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mmmmm! For C’s bday this year, instead of going out to a fancy restaurant, he asked me to make him some Pho. Pho is the quintessential Vietnamese food (in my mind), a great hangover cure, and sooo comforting with its flavorful broth, thick noodles, and delectable quantity of meat. I did some research into different Pho recipes and asked my mom and the following is what I came up with. C was very excited and pleased and said it rivaled his favorite pho place, My Lan, located in Haltom City, TX.

In the broth:

    • 5 lbs soup bones
  • 1.5 lbs brisket cut in 2 big chunks
  • 2-3 oxtail chunks (optional)
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 4 inch piece of ginger
  • 7 anise seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 10 black pepper corns
  • 1 TB salt
  • 3 TB sugar
  • 3 cans chicken broth

In the bowl:

    • 1 lb eye of round beef
  • 1 package bo vien (beef meatballs found in asian store frozen section) (optional)
  • 1 package pho noodles
  • 1 yellow onion sliced finely
  • bunch green onions chopped fine
  • dash fish sauce

On the table:

    • various herbs – basil, mint, bean sprouts
  • quartered lime
  • hoisin sauce, chili sauce


1. Char onion & ginger: Over open flame (for gas grill) or in a dry nonstick pan, char the onion and ginger, turning with tongs to get blackened. doesn’t have to be completely black, but about 15 min should do. Place in a bowl of cold water to cool after they are done and remove any burned skin on the onion and peel the ginger completely. should look like this:

2. Parboil the bones: Place the bones (which may have meat on them) in an average to tall stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and let boil about 3 minutes. Dump everything out in the sink. Rinse bones and stock pot. place back in stock pot and fill water to about 2 inches of the top.

3. Roast the spices: place anise seed, cloves, pepper corns in a dry skillet and roast for 3-5 minutes to really bring out the flavors.

4. Make the broth: Bring the stock pot contents to boil. Add the brisket, charred onions & ginger, anise seeds, cloves, black pepper corns, salt, sugar. Bring to boil again then reduce heat to medium/low to simmer for 1.5 hrs.

5. After 1.5 hrs, take out the brisket and place it in a bowl of cold water to cool off (keeps meat from turning dark and dry). You can also take the oxtails out at this point if you’d like. they are fine if you leave them in too, but the meat will fall off. Drain the meat, slice the brisket in manageable slices and store in a tupperware container in the fridge til you are ready to eat.

6. Add chicken broth to the stock pot. bring to boil again and simmer for at least another 1.5 hrs. Taste the broth and add any more salt/sugar you might like. I actually left my broth simmering n low (1) over night for 6 hrs.

7. When you are done simmering the broth, get another stock pot, place a colander on top of it and pour your broth through the colander and into the next pot. This is an easy way to get all the loose spices and meat/bone chunks out. If you are being health concious, you can also place a paper towl in the colander to catch more of the fat. Remove any meat you’d like from the bones and place in the container with the brisket/oxtail. At this point for me, it is morning, so I put the stockpot with the strained broth into the fridge.

8. When you are ready to eat, take the stock pot out of the fridge. the fat should have formed a layer on the top and you can remove as much as you like. I removed about 1/4-1/2 of the fat. but you defintiely need some to make the broth tasty! Put the pot on the stove at medium to heat it up. Add the bo vien beef meatballs here if you are using them.

9. Boil the noodles: cook the noodles according to the package. they are done if you can pinch a noodle and it just begins to break, about 7 min. Drain them. You can also make the noodles the day before and store in airtight container.

10. Slice the eye of round: Place the eye of round in the freezer for about 15 min to make it easier to slice thin. slice this meat very very thin. your butcher may be able to do it for you. place sliced beef in separate tupperware container.

11. Prepare the bowls: Place about 2 handfuls of noodles in a large soup bowl. place as many slices of the cooked brisket on top as you’d like. Microwave the bowl for 1 min. Now place the rare eye of round slices on top of the rest of the ingredients in the bowl in a single layer. Place the sliced onions and green onions in a small bunch in the middle. Add a splash of fish sauce. This is what your bowl will look like:

12. Prepare the items for the table: Arrange a plate of the fresh herbs and lime wedges. Also place the hoisin and chili sauce on the table.

13. Bring broth to boil: it’s important that the broth is boiling so it will cook the rare eye of round. When the broth is at a rolling boil, ladle the broth carefully over the bowl, being careful to see that all the rare meat is cooking. You can also scoop out the bo vien into the bowl at this point. And here is what the pho looks like!

And here’s what your happy bf will look like if you are me :-):

Hope you get to enjoy this delicious recipe. It is a bit labor intensive but defintiely great to try your hand at making a great vietnamese dish! Nothing says love like home-made pho!

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