With everyone these days (due to stay-at-home orders and the current pandemic sweeping our country), I decided to make homemade Beef Pho – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo in Vietnamese). This is a warm and comforting dish that was a staple in my mom’s kitchen growing up, and it’s one of my favorites to eat. I always have a batch of broth frozen in my freezer at all times. It’s my comfort food, and my son loves it too.
Usually Pho Bo is a dish you could make on the weekend. It’s a pretty easy to make if you have all the ingredients, but it’s very time consuming. It takes hours to cook over the stove, and this allows the bones and the aromatics to do their magic and create a rich, savory broth.
To make the broth for beef pho, you will need two onions and a knob of ginger that you’ll char either in the oven or on the stove. You also need beef bones. You can use any kind of bones you want. At my local Asian store, they sell a bag marked “beef bones” (which includes marrow and knuckle bones) sold specifically for making pho bo. You can also use oxtail. You also need pho spices.
For pho spices, I use Old Man Que Huong Pho Bac Spice Seasoning package, which you can find on Amazon or at your local Asian supermarket.
However, if you can’t find this spice packet, you can assemble individual spices yourself.
To make Pho, you’ll need 2 cinnamon sticks, 5 star anise, 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, 6 whole cloves, 1 cardamom pod, and 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds.
To garnish, you’ll want either dried or fresh rice noodle sticks (sometimes they are labelled Pad Thai noodles), fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, sliced onions, cilantro, and lime.
Personally, I think Chicken Pho is quicker in the Instant Pot and tastes about the same. I’ve tried making Beef Pho in the Instant Pot, but the result doesn’t have the same depth of flavor. It’s still good, but it’s just not the same as simmering on the stove for 3-4+ hours.
Enjoy and happy cooking!
Beef Pho Recipe (Pho Bo) – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
For the Pho Broth
- 2 medium onions, peeled and halved
- 1 knob ginger (2-3 inches), sliced in half
- 3-4 lbs beef bones
- 1 package Old Man Que Huong Pho Bac Spice Seasoning
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- water to fill your pot
To Assemble the Pho
- 1 package dried rice noodles (or fresh noodles if available)
- 1/2 lb beef sirloin, thinly sliced (top or bottom beef sirloin, or eye of round)
- 1 onion thinly sliced, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
- 1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 handful bean sprouts
- 1 bunch Thai basil
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 limes, cut into wedges
- Hoisin sauce
- Sriracha sauce
Making the Pho Broth
- Lightly char the onions and ginger so that they release their flavor. You can do this on high heat over the stove. Or you can broil them in the oven.
- In a large pot, bring the beef bones to a boil to release their impurities. Boil for 10 minutes. You can remove from heat when you see all the scum and gross gunk float to the top.
- Rinse the beef bones under cold water. Rinse each piece well to ensure there is no gunk sticking to them.
- In a medium saucepan, toast the dried spices for 1-2 minutes, or until they release a little aroma. (You don't want them burnt, just slightly toasted.) Remove from heat and place inside a cheesecloth bag.
- In a large stockpot (12 quarts or 16 quarts), add the charred onions and ginger, beef bones, and cheesecloth with aromatics. Fill it with water to its max capacity. Bring it to a boil, uncovered.
- Add sugar and fish sauce. Lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for at least 3 hours. (The longer the better. You can also add more water as you go if simmering for longer than 3 hours.)
- Taste the broth. If it's not salty enough, add more salt or fish sauce. If not sweet enough to your liking, add more sugar. I thought the broth was perfect to my taste, so I left it alone.
- Strain the broth. Throw away the onion and ginger. If there is meat on the beef bones, use a small knife and scrap the meat and tendon off. You can add this meat to the pho bowl.
Assembling the Pho Bowls
- If you're using dried rice noodles, soak them in water for 20 minutes. Then cook them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until they are soft (but not mushy). If you are using fresh rice noodles, you don't need to soak them in water. Only dip them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the noodles to a bowl. Top with raw beef (and any leftover bone meat), sliced onion, cilantro, green onions, and bean sprouts.
- Ladle the boiling hot beef broth over the noodles. This will cook the raw beef.
- Eat with Thai basil, a squirt of lime, a dash of hoisin sauce, and Sriracha sauce for heat. Enjoy!