Traditional beef pho the way it should be.
You can always cheat a bit and use store bought beef stock in in your beef pho but it just isn’t the same!
To make classic Vietnamese beef pho you are going to need to put some time it but it’s worth it.
What exactly is beef pho?
This is a really popular Vietnamese beef and noodle soup. It’s a meal in its own right so not really a starter course.
Most of the work can be done ahead of time. So all you need to do to serve it is set out a few garnishes and of course some beef.
I used beef fillet which was sliced thinly and served on top of the noodles raw. I also added some of the beef brisket which was used to flavour the beef stock.
When you ladle the hot broth over the noodles and meat, the broth cooks the fillet and then each guest can garnish it with their choice of accompaniments.
What accompaniments go with beef pho?
As you can see from the photos, there are a lot of them!
Herbs like coriander (cilantro), Thai basil, mint leaves and spring onions are a must. Bean sprouts are also good. The beef pho is also served with chilli flakes and sriracha which can be added to taste.
What makes the beef pho stock so special?
It’s all in how it’s made. Traditionally, grilled onions and ginger are added. By grilling them it softens the flavour but I have made beef pho stock with raw onions and ginger and it came out tasting delicious regardless.
You will see from the photos below how to accomplish a really clear beef pho stock. As mentioned above, it takes some time but it’s so good.
Step by step photos…
How to simmer the beef pho stock…
In order to achieve a really clear stock, it is important that you don’t bring to stock to a really fast simmer. It should literally just be bubbling a tiny bit.
Also, don’t stir as it cooks as the bones will release impurities into your broth.
How the photos differer from the recipe below…
Whenever I make beef pho stock, I make a lot more than this recipe calls for.
The reason is simple, I like to have some in the freezer for the next time I want to make beef pho.
After all, the beef pho stock takes a good long time to make regardless of if I make a small or large batch. The cooking times are the same. So if you have the freezer space, I recommend doing the same.
If you like this beef pho, you might also like to try some of these Asian favourites…
- 2 large onions, quartered
- 200g / 6oz ginger, sliced thinly down the centre
- 1.5kg (3 lbs) brisket
- 1kg (2 lbs) oxtail
- 1.5kg (3 lbs) beef marrow boned, sliced into pieces to expose the marrow
- 5 litres water
- 15 star anise
- 5 cardamom pods, seeds only
- 5 cloves
- 2 generous tbsp coriander seeds
- 4 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 generous tbsp palm sugar, more or less to taste
- 70ml (1/4 cup) fish sauce
- TO SERVE
- 1 x 170g (6 oz) beef fillet
- 200g dried rice pho noodles
- Generous portions of Thai sweet basil, coriander (cilantro), bean sprouts, green chillies, cut into rings and lime wedges.
- Sriracha sauce (optional)
- The first part of this recipe is optional. If cooking on a gas burner, place the quartered onions and sliced ginger right on the flame to char on all sides. If not cooking on gas, spray your pot with a thin coating of cooking spray and char them in the pan. This makes the flavour of the onions and ginger a little milder but you can skip it if necessary. Set aside for later.
- Place the bones and ox ail in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then boil for 5 minutes, skimming off any unsightly bubbles and gook that float to the top. It takes a good 15 minutes to bring that much water to a boil and you will need to skim as it heats up. Doing this will get you a beautifully clear stock for you pho.
- After five minutes of skimming, pour the water out of the pot into the sink and then rinse each bone and oxtail piece under water to ensure they are as clean as you can get them. This also helps achieve a clear stock.
- Return the bones and oxtail to the pot and cover with fresh water. Add the brisket, onions, ginger and spices and bring to a light simmer and then reduce the heat to simmer lightly for three hours. You don’t want a lot of movement in the stock or it will get cloudy. It will still taste good though so no big worry there.
- After three hours, remove the brisket from the broth and transfer to a plate to cool. Continue simmering the bones for another hour. Then pour the stock through a fine sieve lined with a cheesecloth into a large bowl. You can continue and serve your pho almost immediately or cover the stock and place in the fridge along with the cooked meat and finish off your pho within two days or freeze it all.
- If you place the broth in the fridge, the fat will rise to the top and harden. Remove this before heating again for an even clearer stock.
- To finish, soak the noodles in boiling water for about 15 minutes or follow the instructions on the packaging. I find that soaking the noodles for 15 minutes does the job just fine regardless of brand. If not using immediately, mix in about a tablespoon of oil so that the noodles don't stick together.
- Pour the prepared stock back in the pot and bring to a boil. Add the fish sauce and sugar. Depending on how much stock you are heating, you might want to adjust the amount of fish sauce and sugar to taste.
- To serve, place four large serving bowls on the table and fill each with a good mound of soaked noodles. Top the noodles with thinly sliced brisket and fillet and pour the hot beef broth over them to fill the bowls.
- Everyone at the table can then top their bowls of pho with the garnishes of their choice. How much of each garnish really is up to them. Remember, if you have any meat or broth leftovers, they freeze really well.
I hope you enjoy this beef pho recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.