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Pho recipe?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Over the past year or so, pho has become one of my favorite comfort foods. I've come across several recipes online, but I was curious if anyone here had a recipe that they think works particularly well and if anyone has much experience making it.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)

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post #2 of 18

Some of the best broth in the SGV and all of SoCal for that matter comes from a fairly new, little joint called Pho Minh, at 9646 Garfield in South El Monte.   


The broth is not quite what has become traditional in America, in that it's made with bones only (no meat), and is not boiled but simmered overnight from closing to opening.    


He also doesn't use any MSG, but that's a horse of a different color.


Tai outside! 



post #3 of 18

Good pho broth takes a fair bit of work and time and is a great and wonderful thing. BDL has discussed this in other posts as well.


There are some shortcuts that are still worth their while for quicker pho but they are not really as good.


Shortcut #1


Commercial stock/base. I think I got this from one of Mai Pham's  books but I don't remember anymore. in the book, canned low sodium chicken stock was used, but I've come to rely on Better Than Bouillion's Organic Beef Base, Reduced Sodium. I get it at Costco. This scales pretty well to double or triple but I've not gone bigger than that.


For every two quarts of broth, grill, scorch or blacken over flame:


1 medium onion, cut in half

3 inches of ginger, unpeeled and crushed to break open but not break apart.


Add those to the simmering stock pot.


Toast in a dry skillet until aromatic

2 star anise

5 or so whole black pepper corns

2 whole cloves


Add the toasted spices to the simmering stock pot. Then add:


Add 2 tablespoons fish sauce

Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar


Let simmer 45 minutes.  Then taste to correct seasoning, usually more fish sauce or sugar if anything or maybe a little water if it came to a boil and lost too much broth to reduction.


Meanwhile, prep the beef in thin slices, wash the bean sprouts, cilantro, basil and other herbs you're using. Slice chiles, limes in wedges etc. Soften the rice noodles.


HEAT THE BOWLS in a 150 degree oven, or 200 if that's as low as your oven goes. You'll lose too much temperature to a room temp bowl.


Put the raw meat in before you add the broth so you cook the meat. Ladle broth through a fine strainer to hold back any ashy bits or whole spices and other solids.



Shortcut #2


This is quite the shortcut and only of worthwhile quality while HOT. As the broth cools, the quality declines fast. i mostly use this on mornings if I have an insatiable need for pho for breakfast FAST.


This uses a Pho base I get at a local Asian Grocer. I haven't successfully googled up a source on line but this is quite a similar label


The one I use is  VThai brand with no preservatives. There really isn't branding on the label in English per se, you have to look for the maker in small print.


Proceed as normal for noodles, beef, and vegies.


Combine 1 tablespoon of the Pho base with 1 tablespoon of the above beef base to 1 quart of water.  Scale amounts as needed. Bring to a boil. Add fish sauce to taste,  about a scant tablespoon per quart. Sugar to taste if needed, but wtih this, I usually just use the fish sauce.






Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #4 of 18

I just would like to say that this is such a great thread. Pho is one of my top five soups and Hanoi is on my bucket list, that being said , last year I read one of the magazine's I subscribe to and they had an article on this very subject, you may or may not find it enjoyable.

As far as adding blood to the soup, as the last paragraph states, this is something I would not do personally. 



Thank you so much everyone for sharing your thoughts , tips and recipe.

Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(177 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)

Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(177 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
post #5 of 18

   Thanks for the Pho discussion guys and gals.  I fell in love with the flavors of Pho the first time I tried it.  Luckily, I'm going up to Argyle St, in Chicago, tomorrow to get me some...I can't wait!


    Thanks for the article Chef-Viet...nice read smile.gif



post #6 of 18

We have our very first foodTV channel in my country and I just saw BBC's Rick Stein visiting Vietnam while he was shown how to make authentic Pho. I learned from watching Rick Stein it is pronounced as the french word "feu", which means fire in english.


Maybe there's a YouTube contribution somewhere, but I did a little search on the internet and found this from Rick Stein; 

post #7 of 18

 This is 5oz portion of paper thin sliced Ribeye used for Philly steak sandwiches. It comes in 32 portions, this may be a easy way to get thin sliced meat for the PHO




post #8 of 18

    Looks good ChefBillyB.  We have a large Asian grocery store near me (well...about 25 miles near me) that carries all kinds of desirable beef, etc, cuts paper thin like that.  As you mentioned, I do use them for Philly steak sandwiches, but I've also used it in my versions of pho. 



post #9 of 18


Originally Posted by gonefishin View Post

    Looks good ChefBillyB.  We have a large Asian grocery store near me (well...about 25 miles near me) that carries all kinds of desirable beef, etc, cuts paper thin like that.  As you mentioned, I do use them for Philly steak sandwiches, but I've also used it in my versions of pho. 



Dan, I'm going to venture into making my own PHO, I think it is a great idea, if I make the broth in a large batch, it should freeze well. Then its all down hill from there. I would want to make it a quick meal and the broth is the only time consuming part....................Take care...............ChefBillyB

post #10 of 18

    The broth is quite good.  I'm currently blotted from a bowl that was much too big to finish.  Ugh...yum



post #11 of 18

Whilst I adore Rick Stein - I found his recent BBC series in Asia less than wonderful!


I have had some amazing pho in Australia, though!

post #12 of 18

Hi Folks:


Reluctantly, I retype this post to "desconstruct" the nuances of making "Pho" due to the fact that I've spent nearly two hours on Saturday and while trying to search few old photos to post with the article.. then my PC crashed.  Two hours of intensive labor was... gone forever.  I'd learn better this time, I'll post it segment by segment then.... utilizing edit function at last to complete the article.




Personally, I don't believe there is any short or simple approach to make Pho, in this case, we'd refer to Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup even though Chicken Noodle Soup has also gained its own popularity and foothold in the domaine of ...Pho.  In the US, I've also found there are several deprivatives of Pho such as vegetarian Vietnamese noodle soup and as extreme as "seafood noodle soup" as well.   As I have already explained in my other article "The Tao of Pho"; the typical Pho which we experience in the US or in overseas (such as Australia, France, Canada, and elsewhere) could be quite different from its traditional birthplace (which is supposed to be Ha-Noi but some folks from Nam Dinh, a city which is 90 Km from Ha Noi might beg to differ though).   I've returned to Vietnam and visited a few popular Pho's shops in Ha Noi; a typical bowl of beef noodle soup would be much smaller in size (perhaps merely 1/2 to 1/3 of the typical Pho's bowl in the US) and they'd offer only basic variety of couple slices of cooked flank meat (no meatballs, tendons, and... or with additional herbs such as basil, Mexican cilantro, bean sprouts... and more) as we'd seen in a typical Vientamese restaurant in the US (mostly in CA, Texas, or the East Coast).


I would take my hat off to those who attempt to make Pho and that I would offer my personal version of constructing Pho in the US.  I've attempted to conquer Pho, the most popular and typical Vietnamese dish, which I could consider as "simple yet sophisticated".   It's not like we try to recreate a basic formula for Coke or Pepsi (even though we know what's in it) and in reality, most family operated Vietnamese Noodle Soup restaurants, they'd safeguard their traditional recipe with such zeal though.   To make Pho, we simply can't make a small portion or 4 or 6 people but basic recipe for Pho (constructing the broth first) would require the mininum @ 16 quarts or more.  In this recipe, we would need to prepare basic ingredients for 16 quarts of basic beef broth for Pho.  It's much easier if we have access to most Asian or Vietnamese grocers to purchase most ingredients for Pho. So, let's start:


Basic Ingredients: (For 16 quarts of beef broth for Pho)


- 12 lbs of Beef bones

- 4 lbs of flank meat

- 4-6 onions (need to be charred)

- 1 lb of shallots (also need to be charred)

- 2" ginger root (also charred)


* Ingredients for secondary simmering: (these also need to be roasted before simmering)


- 1/2 cup of corrianders

- 2 black cardomons

- 4-6 star anises

- 1" long cinnamon stick

- 8-10 cloves




* Before we start the simmering process, all beef bones and flank meats (or tendons) must be cleansed; this is the process whereas we would use a large pot, add in about 8 quarts of boiled water + 1 cup of regular salt and add in the bones and meats, let them boil for about 5-7 minutes then discarded the water; rinse off the bones and meats, let them dry.


* Use a large pot, add in about 18-20 quarts of water.  Bring it to boil.  Add in the bones and skim off the impurities (in the form of brownish forms) for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium low (the temperature should be maintained @ 190-195F for simmering process).  At this stage, we add it the charred onions, shallots, ginger roots (compressed a bit to release its aroma); let it simmers for minimum 8 hours or overnight.  Please remember the flank meats and tendons would require only around 3.5 hours to get it done; therefore we could cook them in different pot (with seasoned broth to enhance the flavor of the cooked meat & tendon). 


* After the broth is simmered overnight (we would have layer of clear, yellowish liquid beef fat layer on top but please do not skim it off; we'd need it to "seal in" the aromas of the broth; Now,  we'd use a meshwire container to hold the roasted spices to simmer another couple hours or so.  At this stage, we'd opt to season the broth with salt + rock sugar.  Most Vietnamese would use a tremendous amount of MSG but I'd prefer to use a combination (ratio of 3:2:1 in lieu of weighting the salt to that of rock sugar and MSG) for seasoning purpose.   Please DO NOT USE "fish sauce" to season the broth, if one likes it so much, please use it separately in his/her own bowl at the end.  Fish sauce would disord both the taste and aromas of Pho.   At the end of this stage, we should have a clear beef broth; its color would be compatible to that of a dark Chardonnay wine.


Now, we've already have the basic beef broth for Pho; so let's prepare other ingredients to make Pho; Most Vietnamese would also have:


- Beef balls (two versions...basic meat & with bits of tendon)

- Fresh slices of beef (any well cuts would do just fine... as long as it's fresh and good)

- Beef tendons

- Beef tripes


For fresh herbs, we'd need:


- thin slices of onion

- Cilentro and scallions (finely chopped)

- Fresh bean sprouts

- Vietnamese basil

- Mexican Cilantro

- Chilies (Jalepeno pepper would be just fine)

- Fresh limes

- Hoisin & Chilies sauce.


Of course, we would also need "noodles" for Pho; In the US, we could buy two versions (freshly made and ready packed noodles) and the dry version. I don't really think it'd make all that difference if we use either version since those "freshly packed noodles" actually being produced in CA or TX and its shelf-life would be... weeks, which would be quite different from fresh noodles in Vietnam, the suppliers would send to noodle shop really fresh twice a day.  For dry noodles, we need to soak it in lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes, then rinse it dried before cooking.   We would need a fairly large pot for boiled water to cook the noodles.   High volume of water would retain the evenness of the high temperature for consistency of cooking the noodles.  Of course, the water must be "seasoned" with perhaps couple of tsps of salt before we cook the noodles.


It depends on how many people we serve; nonetheless all basic ingredients (meats, tendons, and fresh herbs) must be prepared and arranged in a way for very quick assembly.  Pho must serve "piping hot" therefore even the serving bowl we must also rinse it with boiled water before quickly placing the noodles and other desired ingredients before pouring the hot broth (which is partitioning accordingly to serving portions in advance).   Perhaps we could have few basic ideas already regarding how to prepare and making Pho.  In Vietnam, actually there are very few people would attempt to make Pho at home (as you could realize the industrial scale and complicity involvement vs the practical purpose of having almost any Pho shop located within walking distance from almost any location in town).


To enjoy Pho, at first we should take a long breath in to enjoy its aromas to ensure our olfactory system is ready our other senses to appreciate this comfort bowl of beef noodle soup then taste a spoonful of the piping hot broth before determine to add it whichever additional condiments as one would design.   A few Vietnamese people would add in the Hoisin & Chilies sauce but I would advise against such practice since these sauces would also distord both the taste and aromas of Pho.  Anyhow, I hope you, as among other highly skilled profession Chefs who participate in this forum will be able to prepare and appreciate Pho, one of the most popular comfort Vietnamese dishes.  BTW, the broth could be partitioned and saved in the freezer for months (to revive it, just to re-simmer with a portion of those basic spices only).

Edited by Chef-Viet - 1/10/11 at 3:47pm
post #13 of 18

thumb.gif  I'll give it a try





post #14 of 18



Spiced Beef Pho with Sesame-Chile Oil   Recipe by Marcia Kiesel


The rice vermicelli soup pho is a staple all over Vietnam and this spicy beef version is the specialty of Hanoi. At home in Connecticut, Marcia Kiesel often eats it for breakfast, as the Vietnamese do. "It's a perfect meal and an invigorating way to start the day," she says. She's tried innumerable phos but considers the recipe from Binh Duong, her co-author on Simple Art of Vietnamese Cooking, to be the best. Inspired by the phoserved at Ana Mandara and the Hideaway, she tweaks Duong's recipe by adding an escarole garnish.






Chicken Pho   Recipe by Charles Phan


Charles Phan and his children adore this addictive soup, calledpho, which has an intense chicken flavor accented by aromatic roasted onion and ginger—they eat it for breakfast or lunch at least four times a week. Like his mom, Phan adds a large pinch of sugar to the broth to balance the pungent fish sauce.



* Everything here is labeled and identified. The links and not the actual recipes have been given. Credit has been given to the proper source. This is not plagiarism. 




"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #15 of 18

The rice vermicelli, it is another different version of noodle soup, in Vietnamese it's called as "bún thang"; basically, it's the chicken noodle soup with bean threads, egg omolet (julian cut), Vietnamese ham, Chinese sausage, cilantro, and rice paddy herb (lá răm)...; it's not Phở though.

post #16 of 18




Interesting thread. Here's a video recipe of my version of PHO (a lot of time and research went in to this):


What do you guys think?

post #17 of 18

Well, it's different than how I've seen it before. More salt, less fish sauce. Never seen it with fennel seed as the star anise is usually up to the task.  Never seen oyster sauce used on it, just hoisin which I can't recommend. Also usually served with much more broth than you offered, in a bigger bowl.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #18 of 18

Thanks for the feedback! A lot of recipes I found include fennel seeds. I guess the star anise would give a similar flavour. 

More broth probably would be better. 

Personally I prefer oyster sauce. A Vietnamese restaurant in Canada where I first had it, served it with oyster sauce. I personally found hoisin to be a little sharp, and prefer oyster sauce. 

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