When my parents had a pho restaurant in Cabramatta I would eat a bowl of pho every day! My father still to this day works on his cooking technique and tweaks the spices to further improve his heavenly broth.
- 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) oxtail (ask your butcher to chop it into 3cm/11/4 inch pieces)
- 4 tbsp salt
- 1 unpeeled garlic bulb
- 4 large unpeeled red shallots
- 150 g (5½ oz) unpeeled ginger
- 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) beef brisket
- 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) fish sauce
- 80 g (2¾ oz) rock sugar
- 1.6 kg (3 lb 8 oz) fresh rice noodles (you will need about 200g/7 oz per person)
- 400 g (14 oz) trimmed sirloin, thinly sliced
- 4 spring onions (scallions), sliced freshly ground black pepper
- coriander (cilantro) sprigs
- 2 bird's eye chillies, sliced
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 8 cloves
- 5 star anise
- 2 cassia bark, about 10cm (4 inch) in length
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 40 cm (16 inch) square piece muslin cloth
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 1 hour
In a large pot, submerge the oxtail in cold water, add 3 tablespoons of the salt and soak for 1 hour, then drain.
To make the spice pouch, dry roast each spice separately in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant.
Cool, then coarsely grind using a mortar and pestle or small spice grinder. Add the ground spices to the muslin square and tie up tightly in a knot. Set aside.
Heat a barbecue grill or chargrill pan over medium-high heat and grill the unpeeled garlic, shallots and ginger evenly for 15 minutes in total until all sides are blackened. Peel the blackened skins and discard them, and then roughly chop. (By doing this, the garlic, onion and ginger becomes sweet and fragrant, releasing more flavour into the stock.)
Put the oxtail, brisket and 6 litres (200 fl oz) of cold water in a stockpot and bring to the boil. While the stock is boiling, constantly skim any impurities off the surface for 15 minutes (this will ensure a clean, clear broth), then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
Add the fish sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon of salt, rock sugar, garlic, onions, ginger and spice pouch.
Cover and simmer for 3 hours, or until the stock has reduced to almost half.
Strain the stock through a muslin cloth. Remove the brisket, set aside to cool, then thinly slice.
Blanch each portion of noodles in boiling water for 20 seconds.
Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl.
Place three or four slices of brisket on top of the noodles, followed by three or four pieces of raw sirloin. Pour over the hot stock to cover the noodles and beef.
Garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon of spring onion, a pinch of black pepper and a coriander sprig.
At the table, add chilli and a squeeze of lime.
You might also like Angie Hong's light, fragrant pho recipe, as seen on Food Safari. Or try food writer Phil Lees's speedy chicken pho recipe.