Vietnamese Pho

Recipe adapted from:

We made this today and it turned out fantastically. The soup was rich and beautiful, however we found that the broth was too fatty. I’ve adjusted the proportions of beef bones to hopefully lessen the fat (ie less marrow) and increase the beefy flavour. You can alternatively keep the same proportions and skim the fat off.

Servings: 4 -5 people


    • 10 star anise
    • 4 cinnamon sticks
    • 4 cardamon pods
    • 3 cloves
    • 1.5 Tbsp coriander seeds
    • 2 tsp fennel seeds
    • 2 large onions , halved and peeled
    • 150g ginger , sliced and unpeeled
    • 2kg beef brisket
    • 1kg meaty beef bones – vertebrae, ox tail…etc.
    • 750g marrow bones (leg, knuckle), cut to reveal marrow into pieces the size of your knuckle (ask your butcher to do this)
    • 2 Tbsp white sugar
    • 1 Tbsp salt
    • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (or more, to taste)
    • 375g (1 package) of rice sticks
    • 300g beef tenderloin, raw, very thinly sliced – or any steak cut will do since it can be pricey
    • Beansprouts, handful per bowl
    • Thai basil, 3 – 5 sprigs per bowl
    • Lime wedges
    • Finely sliced red chilli – optional
    • Hoisin sauce
    • Sriracha hot sauce
    • Coriander/cilantro, 3 – 5 sprigs (or more basil)


  1. Clean the meat: (two methods)
    1. Boil the bones and brisket for 5 minutes, then drain to remove all scum and rinse each piece before replacing back in the pot.
    2. Turn your oven to 220 (usually the highest it’ll go) and bake your bones for 10 minutes, then rinse each piece under running water before putting in a pot.
  2. Toast the spices: In a dry skillet over HIGH heat (no oil needed), toast your spices (cinnamon stick, coriander stick, star anise, and cardamom pods) for a few minutes until lightly brown and fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Char the onion & ginger: Then in the same pan on HIGH heat (still no oil needed), char the onion and ginger for a few minutes until you get some black charred bits on both sides (see photo). Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Make the broth: in a large clean pot, add the cleaned bones and brisket, toasted spices, charred onion and ginger, sugar and salt. Then add the 3.5L of water (this should just barely cover everything in the pot). With a lid on, bring the soup to a boil then let it simmer for 3 hours until the brisket is tender, flakey and falls apart easily.
  5. When the brisket is tender, remove it from the soup and set it aside (you can slice up the brisket to be served in the pho later on or refrigerate and use it for another recipe later).
  6. Reduce the broth: Remove the lid and continue to simmer the soup until it reduces by 1/3 (~ another 45mins). This step removes excess water and concentrates the flavours.
  7. Slice the tenderloin: while the soup continues to reduce, you can thinly slice your raw tenderloin (tip: it’ll be easier to slice if it’s slightly frozen – put it in the freezer for about 30mins) and set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
  8. Cook the rice noodles: cook the rice noodles according to package instructions then strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  9. After the broth reduces, taste it. It should be rich and flavourful (remember we haven’t added the fish sauce yet which will also add more flavour and salt later). Continue to reduce down if you think it’s too bland.
  10. Strain the broth: strain the soup in a mesh strainer to remove all the bones, ginger, garlic, spices…etc. You should be left with a beautiful broth. Add fish sauce to the remaining broth and mix. Add more fish sauce if you need. The broth is now ready to serve!
  11. Assemble the pho bowl: in a bowl, put in one serving of rice noodles, a few slices of the beef brisket, a few slices of the raw tenderloin, small handful of raw bean sprouts and a sprig of Thai basil (6-is 8 leaves). Make sure your soup is hot (if not, then bring to a boil over the stove) before you put it in the bowl over the ingredients, otherwise the raw tenderloin may not cook through. You can alternatively cook the tenderloin for 20-30 seconds in the broth first then place it in the bowl instead of serving it raw.
  12. Serve it with a lime wedge, hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce on the side.

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