A Vietnam Favorite: a Pho Recipe

pho recipe

pho recipepho recipe

We first made this recipe  a couple of weeks ago and even though it was tasty, it wasn’t as good as the Pho we had in Vietnam. So we made it again. And again. Until it was just right. It looks like a lot of work and it isn’t the easiest recipe in the world. You need to put aside some time to make this, but you won’t regret it.

I remember ordering Pho for the first time. It was in a small restaurant in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon. We went there early in the morning, as we heard they had good wifi. We really needed to finish a project for a client. All day long I had been eyeing the Pho on the menu. As you can imagine, I was super excited when dinner time came around. Pho taste unlike anything I have ever tasted before. It’s salty, fatty, full of spices, light, warm, refreshing, filling. I wanted to share this Pho recipe with you because it started my love for Pho and I hope it starts yours too. Next time I’m making this, I’ll try to control myself and make a picture before I eat it.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup or Pho recipe

slightly adapted from Inspired Taste
Serves 6

For the broth
2.5 kilo of beef leg bones. We got them for free at our local butcher
5.5 liter of cold water
2 medium onions, cut in quarters
a 10 cm piece of ginger, cut in half lengthwise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
6 star anise
6 whole cloves
1 black cardamom pod. You can buy this at most Asian stores but if you can’t find it, leave it out.
1,5 tablespoons of salt
1,5 tablespoons of sugar
60 ml of fish sauce

Soup ingredients
700 grams of pho noodles. You should be able to find these at your local Asian supermarket.
450 grams of beef sirloin (entrecôte)
1 onion, sliced in very thin slices (see-through thin)
a load of cilantro leaves

Fresh mint and Thai Basil sprigs
a handful of bean-sprouts
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut in quarters



Pre-heat your oven broiler on the highest setting and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Take your quartered onions and halved ginger and place them on the baking sheet and put it in to the oven. Make sure to turn them occasionally so they become charred evenly on all sides.

While your onions and ginger are in the oven, boil the bones to remove impurities. Add the bones to a large stockpot and just about cover the bones with cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Skim off the scum and foam that rises.

Drain the bones into a colander and rinse them well with warm water. Scrub the pan with soap to remove any residue and fat. Place the bones back in the pan and add 5.5 liters of cold water. Bring to a slow boil.

Put a dry frying pan on low to medium heat and add cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves and the black cardamom pod. Leave it to roast for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the spices are starting to smell really good, place them in a cotton muslin bag/herb sachet/piece of cheesecloth and tie it up into a bundle with butchers twine.

Add the ginger, onions and the pouch of herbs to the boiling bones. Add the salt, sugar and fish sauce and let it simmer for about 3 hours. If any foam rises to the surface, scoop it off with a skimmer.

In the meanwhile, put your beef sirloin in the freezer for about 15 minutes. It will harden a little, making it easier to slice. Thinly slice the beef across the grain into thin slices and put them in the fridge.

Take the onion you sliced and place it in some water for about 20 minutes. This will tone done the raw flavor of the onion.

After 3 hours, get pliers to take out the bones, onions, ginger and herbs. Take your pan and strain your broth through a fine mesh strainer, optionally lined with a cheesecloth. Skim the fat from the top of the broth with a spoon. This is easier if you let the broth cool, as the fat will solidify. Nick is not too bothered with fat, so he just left it because it adds a lot of taste. Put the broth back on the stove and let it simmer on the lowest heat.

Get your pho noodles out and let them soak for as long as needed according the instructions on the packet.


Fill each bowl for about 1/3 with noodles. Add some slices of the raw sirloin. Top with hot broth and add some sliced onions and cilantro. (I like a lot of onions in my Pho).

Serve with well stocked plates of garnishing. Squeeze over the lime and enjoy this perfect soup.

If you’re really hungry, make these as a side dish