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Beef Pho

Pho (pronounced like “fun” without the “n”) originated in northern Vietnam during the early 20th century, and was likely brought by Chinese refugees who settled around Hanoi at that time. Making the base from scratch yields outstanding results but takes time; alternately, substitute 3 quarts quality beef broth, add seasonings, simmer for 1 hour; strain and proceed.

Chopsticks resting in a white bowl full of noodles, beef, herbs, and broth.

Ingredients

Broth Base:

  • 3 lb (1361 g) beef knuckle or hind shank
  • 1 tsp (5 g) salt

Broth Seasoning

  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 12 cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove
  • 12 tsp (1.5 g) peppercorns
  • 1 slice fresh ginger root
  • 12 T (10 g) sugar, preferably yellow rock sugar
  • 12 T (15 ml) fish sauce

Soup:

  • 1 lb (454 g) fresh or dried banh pho rice noodles
  • 112 lb (680 g) sirloin, partially frozen

Accompaniments:

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 C (20 g) cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 C (160 g) bean sprouts
  • 1 C (40 g) sweet basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced
  • 14 C (60 g) Sriracha

Directions

Place beef knuckle in a large stockpot. Add salt and a gallon of water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer 2 hours, skimming regularly. Add broth seasonings and simmer about 4 hours. The last 20 minutes of cooking, soak rice noodles in water about 20 minutes. Strain broth; discard bones, spices and onion. Drain noodles.

Place strained broth in stockpot and keep at a low boil. Slice frozen sirloin very thin—enough to cook instantly; set aside. Cook noodles in boiling salted water about 5 minutes, just until soft; distribute drained noodles among serving bowls; top with beef slices and ladle boiling broth over beef. Serve with accompaniments to be added to taste.

  • Prep time: 12 minutes.
  • Cook time: 6 hours 25 minutes
  • Makes 8 servings