Vietnamese Pho

Photo by joeywan/flickr

Serves 4-6.


2 kg/4 lb beef bones
500 g/1 lb shin (gravy) beef
1 whole onion, peeled
6 cloves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 knob of ginger, sliced
1 stick cinnamon
3 star anise
5 cardamom pods
2 carrots
1 sprig celery leaves
2 tablespoons fish sauce

To serve
500 g/1 lb fresh rice noodles
250 g/8 oz fresh mung bean sprouts,
roots removed
500 g/1 lb beef fillet, thinly sliced
2 white onions, thinly sliced
mint sprigs
chopped coriander
sliced chillies


Put bones and beef, onion stuck with cloves, whole spices and all the other soup ingredients into a large stockpot and add cold water to cover, about 5 litres (10 pints). Bring to the boil, skimming top several times. Turn heat very low, cover and simmer for 6 hours. Add salt to taste. Remove beef and cut into thin slices. Set aside. Strain stock, return to pan and keep on the simmer.

Pour boiling water over rice noodles, drain. Put a serving of noodles in each bowl and top with a handful of bean sprouts. In a large ladle put some slices of beef and onions. Dip ladle into boiling soup until beef is pale pink. Pour over noodles, and add more soup to each bowl. Serve immediately, with a plate of mint, coriander and chillies, to be added as wished. Lime or lemon wedges and fish sauce are passed separately.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)