Pho – The star of the Vietnam kitchen

Pho is a popular Vietnamese noodle soup known for its flavorful broth, rice noodles, and various toppings.

While the exact recipe can vary, here’s a basic recipe for making Pho:

Ingredients for the broth:

  • 4-5 pounds (1.8-2.3 kg) beef bones (such as oxtail, marrow bones, or knuckle bones)
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 3-4-inch (7.5-10 cm) piece of ginger, sliced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 star anise pods
  • 6-8 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Water

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 12-16 ounces (340-450g) dried rice noodles
  • 1-2 pounds (450-900g) beef (such as sirloin, flank steak, or brisket), thinly sliced
  • Fresh herbs: Thai basil, cilantro, and mint leaves
  • Bean sprouts
  • Lime wedges
  • Thinly sliced onion and green onions
  • Sliced jalapeños or Thai bird chilies (optional)
  • Hoisin sauce and Sriracha sauce (optional)


  1. Broth preparation:
    • Place the beef bones in a large pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the bones to remove any impurities.
    • Add the bones back to the pot and fill it with fresh water (about 12-15 cups). Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  2. Flavoring the broth:
    • Add the onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, sugar, and salt to the pot. Stir well.
    • Simmer the broth on low heat, partially covered, for at least 4-6 hours (longer if possible). Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.
    • Adjust the seasoning with more salt or sugar, if needed.
  3. Preparing the toppings:
    • Prepare the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
    • Thinly slice the beef, onion, and green onions.
    • Wash the bean sprouts and fresh herbs. Tear the herbs into small sprigs.
  4. Assembling the Pho:
    • Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Return the broth to the pot and keep it simmering.
    • Arrange the rice noodles and sliced beef in individual serving bowls.
    • Pour the hot broth over the noodles and beef, ensuring they are fully submerged. The hot broth will cook the beef slices.
    • Let the beef cook for about 1-2 minutes in the hot broth.
    • Serve the Pho with a plate of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, sliced onions, green onions, lime wedges, and sliced chilies.
    • Each person can customize their bowl by adding herbs, sprouts, and condiments like hoisin sauce and Sriracha according to their taste.

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