Beef pho southern-style – phở bò miền nam

8 hours


Beef pho

  • 3 onions, skins on
  • 200g of ginger, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 500g of dried pho noodles
  • 150g of beansprouts
  • 500g of topside steak, thinly sliced

Pho spices

  • 10 star anise
  • 5g of cloves
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed, pods discarded and seeds only
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For cleaning the meat

  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 5 tbsp of salt

For the pho broth

  • 500g of oxtail
  • 500g of bone marrow, chopped into 7cm pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 2kg beef brisket, on the bone
  • 500g of beef flank
  • 500g of beef ribs
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and halved
  • 120g of salt
  • 200g of yellow rock sugar, or rock sugar, crushed

To serve

  • 200g of coriander leaves
  • 200g of spring onions, chopped
  • 200g of Thai basil leaves
  • 200g of sawtooth herb, optional
  • 4 limes, cut into wedges
  • 5 bird's eye chillies, aliced
  • sriracha, for dipping
  • hoisin sauce, for dipping


On an open gas flame, char the onions and ginger until the skins are blackened. If you don’t have a gas stovetop, then roast in an oven preheated to 180°C/gas mark 4 for 20–25 minutes. Remove, allow to cool enough to handle, then peel the skins off. Rinse in cold water and set aside
Dry toast all the spices in a small frying pan for 3–5 minutes over a medium heat, until aromatic. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool. Put the spices into a spice strainer (breaking up the cinnamon stick if necessary) and set aside
Next, prepare the bones and meat. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into a stockpot, throw the lemon halves in and fill with plenty of cold water. Soak the oxtail, marrow, beef brisket, flank and ribs and bones in the water, then add the salt. Stir well and leave for 1 hour
Discard the lemon halves and set the pot over a high heat and parboil the bones and meat for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and leave to dry
Rinse the pot used for cleaning the bones and meat and fill with 8 litres of water. Add the par-boiled meat. Blast at extremely high heat for 3–4 minutes to force all the impurities to the surface, then skim off the scum until the water looks clear. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover with the lid and simmer for 3 hours
Add the prepared onions and ginger along with the daikon to the broth along with 120g salt. Stir in the sugar, then continue to simmer for a further 2 hours. Carefully remove the daikon and onion from the broth, add the spice strainer along with the fish sauce. Cook for a further 3 hours
Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference. In the north of Vietnam pho is a little saltier, and in the south it is a little sweeter
Take the pot off the heat, remove the bones and meat, and allow to cool. Skim off any fat that has risen to the surface, then carefully and slowly strain the broth through a large sieve into a clean stockpot. Don’t rush this process if you want to produce that signature clarity to the broth
Soak the noodles in a bowl of cold water for 30–45 minutes. Drain and set aside
For the meat, debone and tear the brisket meat into strips. Cut the flank into thin slices. If you like, tear the meat off the ribs, or serve it on the bones
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then blanch the bean sprouts for 5–10 seconds and drain. Divide the bean sprouts between serving bowls
Fill the pan with fresh water and cook the soaked noodles for 3–5 seconds, then drain and add to the bowls with the bean sprouts. Add the assortment of cooked meat, then arrange the slices of topside steak on top
Bring the broth to the boil and ladle between bowls. Add the marrow to the bowls, or leave on the side for guests to help themselves. Finish with the herbs and serve with lime wedges and sriracha and hoisin sauces for dipping the meat. Do not add the sauces into the broth. Think of the hours you have spent perfecting it
Finally, enjoy your first spoonful of broth… You deserve it chef!