Pho is the lifeblood of Vietnamese cuisine. Every family has their own recipe but this one is from my Grandma, the matriarch of the Ha kitchen, so it’s extra special.
One of my most vivid childhood memories is sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night to get a glass of water and seeing the little blue flame flickering on the stove, beneath a huge pot of gently gurling pho. The pot would simmer overnight, filling the entire house with the aroma of star anise and cinnamon. It was the family meal we always shared on Sunday morning, the only day my parents didn’t have to work.
Now that I’m an adult, my Grandma has a huge pot of pho ready whenever I come home, and she makes sure that I have frozen containers of broth to take back with me. Every time I miss my family or want something soul-soothing, I invite my friends over to share my Grandma’s pho. It’s a gateway to my home, a taste of love, and an invitation born from the care and hospitality that I grew up with, the same hospitality that fueled my founding of BONDLE.
Bring the people you care about together with this truly delicious recipe. From my home to yours.
Ingredients for the broth
- 2 gallons water
- 5 lbs beef marrow bones
- 2 lbs oxtail
- 2 lbs brisket
- 1 lb filet mignon, thinly sliced
- 1 package of beef meatballs with tendon, cut in half
- 1 ginger root, 5 inches
- 3 onions, 2 for the broth and 1 thinly sliced
- 3 shallots
- 1 corn cob
- 10 rock sugar cubes
- 10 star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cloves
- 2 tbsp dried shrimp
- 8 tbsp fish sauce
- Salt to taste
- 2 packages fresh rice noodles
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch Thai basil
- Jalapenos, thinly sliced
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- Hoisin sauce
Preheat the oven to 475 F and place beef bones and oxtail on a baking tray. Do not overcrowd. Roast bones for 20 minutes or until a dark-brown color. Remove from the oven and add directly into the stockpot, along with the brisket.
Place 2 onions, whole ginger, and shallots onto a separate tray and broil until they’re charred, roughly 15 minutes. Smash the ginger with the flat side of a knife to release the aroma. Add everything to the pot.
Fill the pot ¾ of the way full with cold water. Heat the pot on high until the water boils, then turn down to med-low. Skim any scum and excess oil atop the water.
While the pot is heating, toast the cinnamon sticks, star anise, coriander seeds, and cloves until fragrant. Lightly blitz the spices in a food processor or crush them in a mortar and pestle to release their fragrance. Add spices and dried shrimp inside a spice or cloth bag. Tie the bag closed and add it to the pot. Also add sugar and fish sauce.
Continue skimming the top of the broth until all the scum has been removed. Then cover the pot and simmer for 6 hours.
At the 2-hour mark, take out the brisket and oxtail, cover, and set to the side. Once cooled, slice the brisket.
At the 3-hour mark, remove the bag of spices.
At the end of the 6 hours, remove and discard the marrow bones, corn, onions, and ginger. Add water until the broth is near the top of the pot and season with fish sauce, salt, and a little bit of sugar to taste.
When the broth is almost done, soak the rice noodles in hot water for 15 minutes or until softened.
Boil water in a separate pot. Blanche an individual portion of noodles for 10-20 seconds so that it stays al-dente. Remove the noodles with a slotted ladle or small strainer and place in a serving bowl. Continue blanching remaining portions one at a time in the boiling water.
Add meatballs into the broth pot to cook for two minutes.
Place brisket, raw slices of filet mignon, oxtail, and sliced onions on top of the noodles.
Ladle the broth and meatballs into the bowl and garnish with cilantro and green onions.
At the table, add a bit of hoisin sauce, squeeze of lime, bean sprouts, and Thai basil according to taste.
Jalapeños and Sriracha are optional.