I used to go to a restaurant called Pho King. No Pho King joke.
2 medium yellow onions, cut in half, paper removed
1 large ginger finger, or 2 medium.
5-6 pounds beef soup bones -- shin, leg, and knuckle bones, preferably with marrow -- not neck or tail bones. Cut into pieces about 3" - 4" long.
4 - 6 star anise (to your taste)
4 - 6 whole cloves
3" piece of Asian cinnamon stick (or 4" Mexican, in extremis)
1 pound beef stewing meat cut into 2" x 2" pieces.
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1-inch chunk yellow rock sugar, or (not nearly as good) 2 tbs granulated white sugar
Broil the onion and ginger until softened. Skin does not need to be blackened, but it may be. Set aside to cool.
Parboil the bones as follows: Place the bones in a stock pot, cover with water -- about 7 - 8 quarts. Bring to the boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Turn on the hot water sink tap. Empty the bones and water into the sink. Allow water to go into the drain. Thorougly rinse the bones to get rid of any impurities that may have stuck to them. Set aside when clean. Thoroughly rinse the pot to get of any impurities that may have stuck to it. Return the bones to the pot, and cover with fresh, cool water.
Bring to the boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes and skim the scum.
Peel the ginger, getting rid of all skin -- and any blackened bits. After the first skim, add the onions, ginger, and the other remaining ingredients to the stock. Check for scum at ten minute intervals, three times. Skim any scum that appears.
Beginning at the 1 hour mark, check the meat to see if it is tender (but not stringy). Check every 15 minutes thereafter. When the meat is cooked (usually about 90 minutes), remove it. Drain and immediately wrap (still hot) in cling wrap. Reserve in the fridge, and use later as one of the pho meats.
Continue simmering stock. If water evaporates so bones become exposed, add more water as necessary. Stock should be finished at around 3 - 3-1/2 hours total simmer time (not counting the par-boil). Strain through a fine sieve. Check bones for any tendon which may have clung to them. If there is tendon, reserve in the same way as the cooked beef. Defat the stock if you like, but not too aggressively. Stock should be rich but not greasy.
I often shop at Pacific Supermarket, they have great prices on fresh produce and fish, if you don't mind all the birds flying around in the overhead:smoking:. The nearest pho restaurant is a couple of blocks away; it stands alone in a shopping center with no less than 4 Philippino "restaurants :eek:"