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Best ever pho bo – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

beef main noodle soup pho Recipes vietnam winter

Great Pho stock takes time and is a labour of love. In my version you will sure satisfy with this clean deeply flavour broth and the best thing about homemade pho: no MSG added.

One secret of a good home-made pho stock is adding daikon (white radish). This will enhance the sweetness while keeping the broth clear.

Recipe & Photo: Lili Tu

1 hour 9 hours 10

Main ingredients:

  • 2kg beef marrow bone
  • 1kg ox tails, fat trimmed
  • 1kg daikon
  • 8 red Asian shallots
  • 150g ginger
  • 6 cloves
  • 5 star anises
  • 2 cassia barks
  • 2 cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 5 tablespoons salt
  • 150ml fish sauce
  • 20g rock sugar
  • 2 kg fresh noodle
  • 1kg rump, thinly sliced
  • 400g of beef balls (optional)
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1 bunch of saw-leaf herb (optional)
  • 1 bunch of Thai basil
  • 500g bean sprouts
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • Chilli sauce and Hoisin sauce to serve

Tools or gadgets:

  • Spice strainer ball
  • Fine mesh stock strainer


  1. Clean the bones and oxtails by soak them in the cold water mixed with 3 tablespoons of salts for 1 hour then drain.
    In a large pot, bring the water to the boil. Put the bones and oxtails in the pot and bring it to the boil again. Discard the water and rinse the bones and oxtails. This step will help you get a clear stock.
  2. To make the spice pouch, roast the spice ingredients (clove, star anise, cinnamon bark, cardamom and coriander seeds)  in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant (don’t burn them). Add the spices to spice strainer ball.
  3. Heat a char gill pan over medium-high heat and grill the unpeeled onion and ginger evenly for 15 minutes in total, until all sides are blackened. Now peel the blackened skins and discard them. Slice the ginger to thick slices. Peel off the skin of the daikon and cut to thick slices.
  4. Put the oxtail, beef bones and 6 litres of cold water in a large stockpot and bring to the boil. While the stock is boiling, using the stock strainer to skim any impurities off the surface then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of salt, rock sugar, shallots, ginger, and daikon and spice ball. Cover and simmer for 4 hours.
    After 4 hours, add the fish sauce to your stock and taste, season it to your liking. Keep it on simmer.
  5. Slice spring onion, saw-leaf herb and a brown onion
  6. Blanch 180g fresh noodles in boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl. Repeat for the remaining portions.
  7. In a small pot, bring 1/2 litres of water to the boil. Add the beef balls and cook them for 5 minutes. Take them out and slice them in half.  Continue to blanch 100g raw rump for each portion in the hot stock in 2 seconds so the meat just turn pink then place the beef on top of the noodle in the bowl.
  8. Ladle in the hot stock from the stockpot to cover the noodles and beef.
  9. Garnish with 1 tablespoon of spring onion, a pinch of black pepper and a coriander sprig to each bowl.
  10. Serve with fresh chilli, bean sprouts, basil, lime and chilli sauce, Hoisin sauce.


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