The other day when making Beef Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup or Pho Bo), I originally wanted to combine beef bones and oxtail in the same pot … but alas I don’t have a pan large enough to accommodate that. So I decided to cook Beef Pho on the stovetop the traditional way, and use the Oxtail to make Pho in my nifty Instant Pot. I was going to compare how the Pho turned out … and surprise …
The Instant Pot Pho won! My husband preferred the Oxtail Pho in the Instant Pot over the traditional stovetop Pho Bo.
If you have a large enough pot (I think you’ll need at least a 16Qt stockpot), feel free to make stovetop Pho using both beef bones and oxtail. I think the result would be amazing!
As you probably know, if you’re a longtime reader of my blog, I absolutely LOVE my Instant Pot. I have a 6QT, and it’s a lifesaver. It doesn’t make too many servings, but it’s enough for a family of three.
If you don’t know what oxtail is, it’s the the tail meat from cows. It’s a tough piece of meat, so you have to really cook it for a long time. Even though I used the Instant Pot, I still pressure cooked it for two hours. You probably could do less time, and I may experiment with the timing in the future, but pressure cooking it for two hours made it super tender, fall off the bone, just perfection.
For all my pho recipes, I use Old Man Que Huong Pho Bac Spice Seasoning package. You can buy it on Amazon but it’s available at nearly all Asian supermarkets and grocery stores.
If you don’t have access to an Asian grocery store, you can assemble your own pho spices: you’ll need 2 cinnamon sticks, 5 star anise, 6 whole cloves, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 cardamom pod, and a tablespoon of fennel seeds.
Make sure that you also grab a cheesecloth bag to put the spices in. You could also just let the spices float in the broth and strain the broth afterwards to remove it.
Oxtail Pho is cooked in the exact same way as traditional stovetop pho and then served with the same garnishes as regular pho. It’s super easy in the Instant Pot.
However, you do need to parboil the Oxtail first. I’d do this over the stove. It’s much easier. If you choose not to parboil first, your pho broth won’t be clear later and you’ll have to scoop out the scum from it. (Gross!)
I would also cook the spices on the stove, though you could use the Instant Pot as well.
Have a pho-tastic day, and enjoy!
Instant Pot Oxtail Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
- 2-3 lbs oxtail
- 1 package Old Man Que Huong Pho Bac Spice Seasoning
- 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
- 1 knob ginger (2 inches), sliced in half
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- Water to fill the Instant Pot
To Serve the Pho
- 1 package rice noodles
- 1/2 lb thinly sliced beef sirloin (optional)
- 1 onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for 5-10 minutes
- Cilantro, roughly chopped
- Bean sprouts, washed
- Thai Basil
- Green onions, some halved and some thinly sliced for garnish
- Limes, cut into wedges
- Hoisin sauce and Sriracha sauce
- In a medium saucepan, cover with oxtail with water. Boil on the stove for 5-10 minutes, or until you begin to see foam and gunk. These are the impurities.
- Drain and rinse the oxtail with cold water.
- In a small skillet on the stove, toast the pho spices for 1-2 minutes, or until you can smell the fragrance. (You can also do this using the Instant Pot, but I think the skillet makes it easier.)
- Put the toasted spices into the cheesecloth bag provided in the kit.
- On "Saute" mode of the Instant Pot, add the onion and ginger. Dry roast them until they are slightly burnt.
- Turn off the Instant Pot. Add the cleaned oxtail. Then add water until the Max line of the Instant Pot. Add the spice bag. Season with 1/4 cup of fish sauce and 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot. Set to "Manual" for 120 minutes.
- You can manually release the pressure, or let it naturally release. (This depends on how much time you have, and how hungry you are to eat. Both work fine.)Taste the broth. Add more fish sauce or sugar, if desired.
- Discard the ginger, onion, and spice bag. Remove the oxtail. Set it aside on a plate.
Serving the Oxtail Pho
- If you are using dry rice noodles, soak it in water for 20 minutes. If you're using fresh noodles, no need to soak.Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the desired amount of noodle into the water and let cook for 1-2 minutes until soft (but not too mushy or overcooked).
- Put the cooked noodles in a bowl. Add a handful of bean sprouts on top. Add sliced sirloin beef, if desired. (This is optional. I find it's nice to have multiple types of beef in your pho). Then top with the sliced onions, chopped scallions/green onions. Add one or two oxtail. (You can serve it whole with the bone, or you can remove the meat beforehand). Meanwhile, bring the pho broth to a boil using the "Saute" function of the Instant Pot. Ladle the boiling hot soup into the bowl, making sure to cover the sliced sirloin. Add a dash of black pepper, if desired. Sprinkle cilantro. Enjoy with a slice of lime, hoisin and Sriracha sauce.