Pho bo is my absolute favourite pho. It has a rich beef flavour and fat from the top of the broth, which is referred to as the golden layer. It’s this fat that gives beef pho its unique aroma.
- 2 kg (4 lb 6 oz) fresh pho noodles (see Notes)
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) beef blade steak, very thinly sliced
- 1 brown onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
- 1 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves picked
- 5 kg (11 lb) beef marrowbones
- 200 g (7 oz) piece of ginger, unpeeled
- 2 large brown onions, unpeeled
- 1 garlic bulb, unpeeled, halved
- 1 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beef brisket
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) oxtail
- 15 star anise
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 2 sticks cassia bark
- 4 cloves
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 60 g (2 oz) sea salt
- 200 ml (7 fl oz) fish sauce
- 50 g (1 ¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar (if needed)
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) bean sprouts
- 2 bunches Thai basil
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
- 6 bird’s eye chillies, sliced
- hoi sin sauce
- sriracha chilli sauce
- fish sauce
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.
1. To make the broth, rinse the marrowbones to remove any blood and splinters, then transfer to a 10 litre (2½ gallon) stockpot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the bones, then place over high heat and bring to the boil. Boil the bones for 20–30 minutes, until no more blood comes to the surface. Drain and discard the cooking liquid, and rinse any remaining blood or impurities from the bones. Return the bones to a clean stockpot, cover with water to nearly the top of the pot and bring back to the boil.
2. Meanwhile, roast the ginger, onion and garlic over a gas stovetop or barbecue flame, or under the grill (broiler) until the skins are charred. Add to the stockpot, along with the brisket and oxtail. Simmer for about 3 hours, removing any impurities as they rise to the surface, or until the meat is tender. Remove the brisket from the broth and set aside to cool, then place in the fridge to use later in the soup. Leave the oxtail in the broth.
3. Bring the stock back to the boil and continue to remove any impurities that rise to the surface. Simmer gently over medium heat for a further 7–8 hours until the broth has reduced by 20–30 per cent.
4. After 5–6 hours of cooking, lightly toast the star anise, cardamom pods, cassia bark, cloves and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Tie the spices in a square of muslin (cheesecloth) and add to the stockpot for the last few hours of cooking.
5. When the broth is ready, remove and discard the solids. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Season the broth with the salt and fish sauce, and add the sugar if you feel the broth needs a little sweetness. Return to a low heat and simmer until ready to serve.
6. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Using a noodle basket (see Notes), blanch individual portions of pho noodles (about 120 g–150 g/4 oz–5½ oz per person) for 10 seconds, then transfer to large noodle bowls.
7. Slice the brisket into 2-mm thick slices and evenly divide among the bowls. Top with the thinly sliced beef blade, onion, spring onion and coriander. Ladle the stock into the bowls, ensuring that it’s boiling hot to cook the raw beef slices.
8. Place the accompaniments on a serving platter and place in the centre of the table. Serve the pho and invite guests to season and flavour their own dish.
• Fresh pho noodles can be purchased from most Asian supermarkets. If you are unable to find them, you can also use dried thin rice stick noodles (sometimes referred to as pad Thai noodles). Cook according to the packet instructions, then drain and divide among noodle bowls.
• It’s best to use an Asian noodle-blanching basket to cook the noodles. These can be purchased from Asian kitchen supply stores or online.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99