Make Vietnamese Beef Pho at Home

Recipe Included

The home-made beef broth: clear, flavorful, and balanced — nothing like the salty types from restaurant joints.

Easy step-by-step instructions to replicate at home. Only the preparation, mostly cleaning and gathering all the ingredients, takes the most effort. The cooking is simple. A great meal for the kids to help cook , explore plants, scents and tastes.

Here we go: First-off, burn an onion and a piece of ginger IN FIRE! Not kidding! (Or you can cut and grill them instead)

My friend remembers her paternal grandfather doing the same on open fires when she was young. I was absolutely flabbergasted and asked her more than once — “char in an open fire!?”

THE BEEF: Parboil the ox tail. Par-boiling in the stock pot for 2–3 minutes ‘cleans’ and removes any gamey taste.

The daughter having fun here scooping green bean skins off the tub of bean sprouts while mom is removing the charred skin from onion and ginger. Notice that the spring onion and cilantro have been washed.

HERBS NEXT: Put grilled or charred ginger and onions in stock pot. (Remove charred skin)
In the meantime, her daughter cleaned the herbs (spring onion & cilantro: remove roots; bean sprouts: soak and remove all green bean shells floating; thai basil, clean and pluck leaves)
TIP: Clean the herbs and bean sprouts and allow to air dry. Don’t soak vegetables for too long else lose nutrients.

Mom and daughter gathering the spices.

SPICES IN ALSO: Add the spices to the stock. My friend’s daughter scrunched her little nose as she smelled the cinnamon, star anise and cloves.
She was quick to point out that the cinnamon look like it was a part of a tree (Indeed! It’s from the bark.) and that star anises look like flowers.
TIP: Good idea to place spices in a fish bag/pouch to save from having to fish them out later.

Boil beef, ginger & onion, spices and seasoning, leave to simmer for 3–4 hours uncovered.

When the broth is brought down to a simmer, prepare the pho by soaking in cold water.

Just about to serve :

Cut spring onion and cilantro into 1cm.

Cut spring onion, cilantro into 1cm. (Keep the white parts of the spring onion whole to add a piece or two to each bowl)

Place a bunch of bean sprouts at the bottom of each serving bowl.

Cook pho (soaked) bowl by bowl. It doesn’t take long. Keep al dente.

Finally, top it off with beef, herbs (cilantro & spring onion), and of course the soup!

Serve with pitted lime, Thai basil leaves, & chopped chilli at the table.

A hearty bowl of Vietnamese pho — a treat perfect for a weekend afternoon. Three types of beef: ox tail, raw beef, and tenderloin (that was also cooking in the stock.)

Pro Tips:

#1 The trick to a clear and ‘clean-tasting’ broth is that we skimmed the fats and cloudy bits as the stock was boiling. (A mesh skimmer works well)

#2. When preparing packaged pho noodles, dunk the pho in a tap water and let it soak as the broth is cooking. Don’t cook the pho without soaking — or you can, but the texture will be a bit mushy, and less springy.

Pouring soup over TWICE. Once is not enough!

#3. (Important!!) To properly soup-up your bowl of pho, pour soup over TWICE. 
Meaning: pour soup over bean sprouts, noodles, and raw beef in the bowl, then empty the bowl of soup back into the stockpot and pour soup over the meal a second time — this allows the bean sprouts and raw beef to be properly heated.

Download printable recipe here:

Broth ingredients: for 8

Yellow onions (2 medium sized)
Ginger (4-inch piece)
Beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones: 5–6 pounds) or Ox tail (one) for less fatty soup
Beef chuck, rump, or rib roast (1 pound)
Cloves (6 pieces)
Cinnamon stick (1 stick)
Star anise (5 pieces, 40 star points total)
Salt (1.5 teaspoons)
Fish sauce (4 TBLS) TIP: Fish sauce & rock sugar are partners in cooking.
Rock sugar (2 TBSL)

Herbs, pho: Consume as much as one wishes.

My friend’s little girl cleaned up the whole bowl of pho she helped make. (And the adults too!) We couldn’t get enough of the tasty broth!

Thank you again. Bon Ap!