Sold from street food carts all over Vietnam, this comforting rice noodle soup is no stranger to Australian palates. The word pho is thought to originate from the French dish, pot-au-feu, which also features a broth made from simmering beef bones and beef cuts, with plenty of aromatics. Pho became a popular Vietnamese dish in the mid-1900s and today, there are variations across the country. Our recipe is closer to the Southern Vietnamese-style pho, which tends to have a sweeter broth and ample fresh herbs as garnishes.
- 3 beef shin bones
- 75 g (¼ cup) rock salt
- 1 garlic bulb, unpeeled
- 2 onions, unpeeled
- 100 g ginger, unpeeled
- 500 g piece beef brisket, trimmed
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 6 star anise
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) fish sauce
- 90 g (⅓ cup) finely grated light palm sugar
- 1 kg fresh rice noodles (see Note)
- 200 g beef fillet, thinly sliced
- 1 white onion, thinly sliced
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 100 g (1¼ cups) bean sprouts
- 1 bunch coriander, leaves picked
- 1 bunch hot (Vietnamese) mint (see Note), leaves picked
- 1 bunch Thai basil, leaves picked
- 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
- lime wedges, to serve
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
Drink match Barossa Valley Brewing Organic Ale, SA (330 ml, $4)
Place beef shin bones and half the salt in a large stockpot of cold water. Set aside to soak for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat overhead grill to medium–high. Place garlic, onions and ginger on an oven tray and grill, turning once, for 20 minutes or until skin has blackened. Cool slightly, then peel away blackened skin. Set aside.
Drain beef shin bones, then rinse under cold water. Return bones to same pan, add brisket and 5 L water, and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes, skimming scum from surface, then reduce heat to low and add grilled garlic, onions, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, fish sauce, palm sugar and remaining 1½ tbsp rock salt. Cover and simmer for 3 hours or until brisket is tender and liquid has reduced by one-quarter. Remove brisket, then strain broth through a fine sieve lined with muslin or a clean Chux cloth into a bowl. Thinly slice brisket and set aside. Return broth to pan and keep warm.
Blanch noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain and divide among bowls. Top with sliced brisket, beef fillet and onions. Season with black pepper, ladle over hot beef broth and top with bean sprouts, fresh herbs and chillies. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.
• Use fresh rice noodles available from the counter, not the fridge, of Asian food shops.
• Hot (Vietnamese) mint is available from Asian food shops.
Photography Derek Swalwell