Vietnamese Beef Pho

Vietnamese Beef Pho

Details

Rich and full-flavored beef broth is ladled over tender rice noodles and thinly-sliced pieces of beef tenderloin. Garnished fresh bean sprouts, chilies, Thai basil and cilantro, this version of Vietnamese Beef Phở is sure to awaken your taste buds.
  • Serves: 4
  • Active Time: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Views: 54,445
  • Success: 100%

Steps

Step 1: Blanching the Meat & Bones

• 2 lb beef bones (approx.)
• 2 lb braising beef ribs
• 2 lb oxtail
• cold water (as needed)

Method

To blanch the meat, place everything into a tall, skinny soup pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water up to a boil over medium-high heat.

Skim the impurities off the top as they rise to the surface. Once the water comes to a boil, drain and discard the murky water. Cover the meat again with cold water and return to the heat. Slowly bring to a simmer, skimming any additional impurities off the surface.

In the meantime, prepare your mise en place.

Step 2: Preparing Your Mise en Place

• 4 large onions
• 5 inches fresh ginger
• 6 whole star anise
• 8 cloves
• 6 garlic cloves
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 2 tsp black peppercorns

Method

To prepare your mise en place, first peel the onions and ginger. Cut the onions in half. Slightly char the onions and ginger over an open flame (or under the broiler) just to soften. Remove any large blackened bits. Dice the onions into about 1" -inch pieces. Cut the ginger into large slices.

Gather the bouquet garni (star anise, cloves, garlic, cinnamon sticks and peppercorns). Set aside.

Step 3: Starting the Broth

• salt (1/4 tsp per L/qt of liquid)

Method

Once the impurities have been skimmed from the surface of the broth, add the salt, mirepoix and bouquet garni. Continue to gently simmer until the meat is cooked through, at least 2 hours.

Step 4: Finishing the Broth

Method

Once the broth has finished cooking, remove and discard the solids (the meat, however, can be reserved for other preparations). Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth.

Skim as much fat from the surface as possible. If desired, cool the broth over an ice bath and refrigerate. Remove any hardened fat before proceeding with the recipe.

Step 5: Seasoning the Broth (optional)

• 2 tsp fish sauce (or to taste)
• 1 tsp rock sugar (or regular sugar)
• 12 cups beef broth

Method

Bring the desired amount of broth to a simmer (about 2 to 3 cups per person).** Taste the broth (reheat first if cold) and season to taste with the fish sauce and rock sugar. Adding fish sauce and rock sugar will help balance out the soup.

Depending on how much broth you are using you will need to adjust the fish sauce (nuoc mam) and rock sugar (duong phen) to taste.

Step 6: Soaking the Noodles

• 8 oz thin rice noodles

Method

To prepare the noodles, place them into a large bowl and cover with very hot water. Soak for about 30 minutes or just until soft.

In the meantime, prepare the rest of the garniture.

Step 7: Preparing the Garniture

• 12 oz thinly-sliced tenderloin*
• 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
• 1/2 cup cilantro
• 2 green onions
• 1 small white onion
• 1 small bunch Thai basil
• Sriacha sauce (optional)
• oyster sauce (optional)
• 2 whole serrano chilies
• 1 fresh lemon

Method

To prepare the garniture, peel and thinly slice the white onion into rounds. Thinly slice the green onions and chilies on a bias. Wash and spin-dry the bean sprouts, cilantro and basil. Set each aside. Cut the lemon into wedges. Place the Sriacha sauce and oyster sauce into small sauce dishes.

Remove the beef tenderloin from the refrigerator.

Step 8: Building and Serving the Soup

Method

Drain the noodles and divide among each bowl. Add a few slices of white onion and some sliced green onions over top. Place about 3 ounces of sliced beef over top.

Pour the simmering broth directly over the beef. Serve immediately. The beef will immediately begin to cook from the heat of the hot broth.

Have each person squeeze lemon wedges into the broth to taste. Top with bean sprouts and cilantro. Season with the sliced green chilies, Sriacha sauce and oyster sauce to taste).

Chef's Notes

  • Have your butcher thinly slice the beef tenderloin for you. You can also freeze it slightly which makes it easier to slice by hand. Thinly-sliced beef flank can be substituted.
  • Freeze the remaining broth and you’ll be able to serve up this delicious and healthy soup any time! See: Tricks for Freezing Stock

29 Comments

  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Had some of the soup Broth in the freezer and last night we made Rice Pilaf and used the broth as the liquid and it had to be the BEST rice I have ever had. There were wonderful hints of star anise, ginger, garlic...and just an all around great taste to the rice. We served the rice with pork tenderloin medallions (much like this Miso Pork). We added a little arugula and spinach salad on the side and it was a great match.
  • Karen H
    Karen H
    Hi Dawn, Do you have any suggestions for using the reserve meat once the broth has been finished? The recipe alludes to it; would love to know what can be done with it before I attempt to make this. Thanks!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The meat is great added to soups, stewed beans or vegetables, even shredded or pulled and combined with a sauce, provided the flavors match to make a great sandwich. For things such as dumplings and ravioli, the meat is great because of its delicate flavor. Unless added to an already tasty preparation, the meat will definitely need to be well seasoned because it will have lost a lot of flavor during the cooking process. Hope this helps. The soup is delicious!
  • Tash & andrew G
    Tash & andrew G
    Hi Dawn, This is by far one of my favourite soups and we are lucky to have a great Vietnamese place close by so we eat it regularly. I usually order their chicken pho option which is just as delicious. I wonder if I could modify this recipe to make a chicken version at home? If so, what would you recommend? Thanks!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Hi there, You can simply substitute the 6 pounds of beef/bones for chicken legs. Just don't cook the chicken as long. Remove it from the liquid once it has just cooked through. This way, it will be tender when you take the skin off and add it back to the soup at the end. For more details, click on the link (in the notes, just below this text recipe) to the Cooking School Lessons on Broths and Broth-based Clear soups. There is great information in the lessons on how to make broths and how to vary the ingredients. Hope this helps. Happy Cooking, Let us know how it turns out!
  • Karen H
    Karen H
    Hi Dawn, How many cups does this recipe tend to make? I have a 20 qt stock pot and would appreciate pointers on how to adjust ingredient ratios to make an amount suitable for the size pot I have.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    First off, I'd double the entire recipe. This should fit the 20 qt. pot nicely. The end result in terms of broth, should yield about 6 qt or 6 liters approx (or ~ 24 cups). Keep in mind, that if you are serving this to a large group, that the stock HAS to be piping hot to cook the beef. Good luck. d
  • Linda C
    Linda C
    Made this last night, and it was everything I remembered from college days and eating Vietnamese Beef Phở almost every day. (it was very inexpensive) The beef broth is the best. I plan on using the extra for rice later in the week, long with some lovely fillets. thanks for the recipe, and the comments. I've learned loads from them too.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I just made this yesterday but instead of using chicken legs, I used chicken bones instead. Essentially I just made an Asian stock rather than a broth. Delicious and the house smelled fantastic!!
  • Rick W
    Rick W
    I made Pho from an online recipe before and it tasted totally different from the soup that I had in my local Vietnamese restaurant. For example, restaurant soup doesn't use fish sauce but this recipe is recommended. It is that unique Vietnamese fragrant is missing. I am wondering if you guys have a recipe for the restaurant's version.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    This is the only recipe we currently have for Pho. Not sure if there is such a thing as "a recipe for the restaurant's version", as each restaurant would most likely have their own special recipe.
  • Tri N
    Tri N
    In my opinion, you can't have the official taste of Pho outside of Vietnam even if you have the exact recipe. The reason usually because the ingredient itself would be different. For example, Vietnamese cow is used on the field in stead of cultivator. That makes its muscles tougher than the industrial cow. It also one reason why we cook the meat but don't use it, i think. I am from Vietnam and the word "Pho" would be too general for me. In 3 different regions of Vietnam, we have 3 different kind of "Pho" which are almost nothing like the others. So don't take it too seriously
  • Yen N
    Yen N
    Thank you for the Pho recipe. I used to labor for hours to make Pho and it still doesn't taste good. But I found this awesome new Pho-making kit called Happy Pho by this woman who used her grandparents' recipe to make them. They come in a box with a spice packet and a pack of pho noodles for 2 people. I was skeptical at first, but they have a simple recipe at the back that takes 15 mins. All I need to get is some chicken or beef broth and fresh ingredients, and the Pho that came out is absolutely delicious! It's also all natural and organic and made with brown rice. Check out their products here http://staranisefoods.com/our-products.aspx. I got them from Whole Foods in SoMa. But you can also get them from Amazon.com I think. I've also joined their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Star-Anise-Foods/111447418877428 -- and just went to their product demo for some free tasting of all flavors. Love it!
  • Robert L
    Robert L
    I've been looking for one and I'll give it a try this weekend.
  • Lee-ann D
    Lee-ann D
    I bought fish sauce from a Vietnamese store, but it smells very strong. I expected it to be the same (or similar) to the fish sauce that Vietnamese restaurants serve for dipping spring rolls. Is there a particular brand that you would recommend? Thanks for your time!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I tend to use Golden Boy fish sauce. It's the crazy bottle with the baby on the front holding a bottle of fish sauce. There are many other brands out there I am sure that are good as well. When buying any fish sauce keep in mind that they will all smell quite strong and fishy. The smell should just be natural smelling and it should also have a natural taste. When buying fish sauce look for clear, amber-brown colored liquid with no sediment. Hope this helps - cheers!
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Vietnamese restaurants often serve different dipping sauces with spring rolls, salad rolls, etc. Nuoc Cham is a popular one made with fish sauce. Cheers!
  • Lee-ann D
    Lee-ann D
    Hello Dawn and Kimberly, I really appreciate your feedback. I made the stock yesterday, and I'm planning to make the Pho today. It helped a great deal to know that the bottled fish sauce is not used in its concentrated form as a dipping sauce, but rather an ingredient in Nuoc Cham. I didn't know this. Thank you again, Lee-Ann :)
  • Divina C
    Divina C
    For the noodles, you don't need to blanch it? I was thinking of serving this for breakfast service next week and I was thinking about the best way of holding the noodles before anyone orders. Your suggestions would be great. Thanks.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Rice noodles do not need to be blanched. They can be soaked in cold water until soft. This can even be done the day before. Once soft, drain and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Cheers!
  • Divina C
    Divina C
    Hi Dawn, thanks for the feedback... Will the noodles stick to each other if I soak them one day in advance?
  • Divina C
    Divina C
    I just answered my own question. They didn't stick. But I quickly blanched them for about 20 seconds to keep them hot. Some students have never tasted a Pho. For others, it was an acquired taste but a great exposure for them. For the other students, they really like it compared to ordering them at the restaurant.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Great to hear that the Pho was well received Divina. So in the end did you soak the noodles the day before? And if so, did you then drain them and then reheat them briefly before serving? Cheers!
  • Divina C
    Divina C
    Hi Dawn. I did soak them just the day before as you suggested and I drained them and kept them in a container and into the refrigerator. And reheat them briefly before serving. It worked really well. Thanks Dawn.
  • Suzanne S
    Suzanne S
    Hi Dawn: We have had success with making chicken broth in a pressure cooker. Do you think this technique could be used here to make the broth and cut down on the cooking time?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I have not tried it myself, but I am sure it would work just fine. Cheers!
  • Suzanne S
    Suzanne S
    Dawn, we took inspiration from your rice pilaf and used the broth to make risotto. We added the shredded meat from the broth to the risotto as well as green peas. It was one of the best things that we ever made.
  • Gloria M
    Gloria M
    I'm anxious to try this for my nephew's Vietnamese wife. If we have the luxury of asking the butcher to cut the beef ribs, does it matter much how they are done - English or flanken? And when you add your bouquet garni, do you usually put it in a cheesecloth bag or just leave everything loose? Still loving' Rouxbe!
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Either English or flanken will work, but flanken style will be better because the bones are cut smaller and it won't take as long for the liquid to extract the flavor. In terms of the bouquet garni, it is up to you; the final broth is strained anyway but if you plan to use the meat for another purpose, placing it into a bag may make it easier to fish out the meat. This pho is a practice recipe from the lesson on How to Make Broth-Based Soups. Hope your nephew's wife enjoys it! Cheers!

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