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Pho Vietnamese Beef Soup
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Pho (Vietnamese Beef Soup) | Long Quick and Express Versions

While Luke's recipe is the best I've tried, it does take a good half a day to make. If you want to make an express version of Pho, the Essential Asian Cookbook (also by Murdoch Books), suggests simmering regular beef stock with spices for 30 minutes before straining and adding noodles and all the extra trimmings. Adapted from Luke Nguyen | Songs of Sapa (Murdoch Books).
Servings: 4


For the Pho Spice Pouch:

  • 1/4 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tbsp Sichuan pepper
  • 1/4 tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cardamom seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 10 cm cassia bark
  • 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 40 cm square piece of muslin or gauze cloth

For the Pho Stock:

  • 500 g oxtail chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 small unpeeled garlic bulb
  • 4 large unpeeled onions
  • 75 g unpeeled fresh ginger
  • 500 g beef bones
  • 1 kg beef brisket)
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 40 g brown sugar
  • Spice Pouch - see above

To serve:

  • 600 g fresh rice noodles or 200g stick rice noodles prepared according to instructions
  • 250 g beef filet sliced thinly across the grain

Trimmings on the side:

  • Bean sprouts
  • Sliced onion
  • Sliced Chillies
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Thai basil purple
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


To make the Spice Pouch:

  • Dry roast all ingredients in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant. Cool then grind using a mortar and pestle.
  • Add the ground spices to the muslin square and tie up tightly in a knot. Set aside.

To prepare the Oxtail:

  • In a large pot, submerge oxtail in cold water, add 2 tablespoons salt and soak for an hour, then drain.

To prepare the Garlic, Onions and Ginger:

  • Heat a barbecue grill or pan over medium-high heat and grill unpeeled garlic, onions and ginger evenly for 15 minutes until all asides are blackened. Peel the blackened skins and discard them. Roughly chop the garlic, onion and ginger.

To make the Pho Stock:

  • Put the drained oxtail, beef bones, (brisket, if using), and 12 cups of cold water in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for 15 minutes constantly skimming any impurities off the surface. Reduce to a low simmer.
  • Add fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, brown 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-lined sieve.
  • (Remove the brisket, if using, set aside to cool then slice thinly)

To serve:

  • Blanch rice noodles in boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain and divide between serving bowls.
  • (Place a few brisket slices in the bowl, if using)
  • Arrange a few slices of raw beef fillet on top of the noodles and pour over hot Pho stock.
  • Garnish with a handful of bean sprouts, sliced onion, chillies.
  • Serve with a lime wedge, Thai basil and black pepper on the side.
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