Pho by Mean Chef (Vietnamese Beef & Rice-Noodle Soup)

"I adopted this recipe of one of my favorite dishes. It may look complicated but it is just making soup by getting all the flavor you can from the ingredients. The results are INCREDIBLE."
photo by PalatablePastime photo by PalatablePastime
photo by PalatablePastime
photo by PalatablePastime photo by PalatablePastime
photo by PalatablePastime photo by PalatablePastime
Ready In:
4hrs 30mins




  • Put the oxtails into a large stockpot and add enough water to cover the bones by 4 inches (about 1 1/2 gallons). This will reduce to about 3 quarts when you are done.
  • Bring to a full boil and then lower the heat to a rapid simmer.
  • Skim the scum that rises to the surface.
  • Meanwhile put the ginger and onion halves on a baking sheet and char them under the broiler until lightly blackened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Turn them over halfway through cooking.
  • When cool enough to handle, rinse the onion and ginger under running water, using a knife to scrape away some of the charred surface.
  • Cut the ginger into 3 pieces and toss it and the onion halves into the simmering broth, along with 1 tablespoon salt and the fish sauce.
  • Put the star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a small skillet and toast them on top of a stove burner over medium heat.
  • Turn the spices a couple of times until they're slightly darkened (3 to 4 minutes) and until you smell their aroma.
  • Put the toasted spices and fennel seeds in a small square of double thick cheesecloth and tie the bundle with a long piece of kitchen twine.
  • Add the spice bundle and the bay leaves to the broth, tying the end of the twine to the pot handle for easy retrieval.
  • Let the broth simmer slowly, uncovered, skimming occasionally.
  • After 4 hours, remove the spice bundle, onion, bay leaves and ginger from the pot and discard.
  • Remove the oxtails from the pot and set aside.
  • Let the broth continue to simmer.
  • When the meat is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones.
  • Set the meat aside and return the bones to the broth.
  • Continue simmering, uncovered, until the broth is rich and flavorful, about 1 hour. At this point you should cool the broth in the refrigerator overnight and then defat.
  • Heat the broth and taste to determine if you need to add more salt or fish sauce as needed.
  • Meanwhile, soak the rice noodles in cold water for at least 20 minutes.
  • Arrange the sliced scallions, cilantro, parsley, basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and chiles on a platter in separate piles.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the drained rice noodles.
  • Give the noodles a quick stir and cook until tender but firm, about 1 minute.
  • Rice noodles can quickly become gummy, so don't let them overcook.
  • Drain the noodles.
  • Warm 4 large bowls by rinsing them with hot water and divide the noodles among the bowls.
  • Just before serving, return the broth to a full boil.
  • Arrange the slices of raw filet and pieces of cooked oxtail meat over the noodles in each bowl.
  • Carefully ladle the boiling broth over all; the raw beef should be submerged in the broth.
  • Serve immediately, along with the platters of garnish.
  • Yield: 3 quarts of broth; serves 4 as a main course.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I am Thai and grew up on my mother's Thai beef noodle soup (kway tiew). This is a close clone to her aromatic and tasty broth. If you have never tried pho... this is a great recipe to try. Very very flavorful and easy to put together once you have made the broth. I cut back on the star anise ( I used about 4 ) but used the rest of the spices in the same proportion. I tied it all up in the cheesecloth, but only left it to steep for about 2 hours... IMHO leaving the spice bundle for the 4 hours would have made the broth too strong for us ( especially if I had used the 8 star anise). Leaving it in for 2 hours was just perfect. When you taste the broth, it should be on the salty side...considering you are going to be adding the rice noodles and lots of fresh condiments. My BF and I enjoyed a huge bowl of this for dinner...with beef meatballs and some sliced rare steak and all the garnishes. Thanks for sharing!
  2. I triple checked to see if I missed something, but the broth turned out terrible.
  3. This was exceptionally great. Worth the little bit of hassle, it IS incredible!
  4. *Hug* This is one of my favorite meals. Mmmmm! just like the resturaunt. MEAN are awesome!! This soup, and ANY Pho is addicting LOL
  5. Nice recipe! I liked being able to cook the broth the day before so it was just a simple matter to toss this together the next day. I did find the star anise to be a bit strong, so I might cut that back next time. I also found the amount of noodles a bit skimpy compared to what is traditionally served. I would go with at least twice as much, especially if one is serving this as a "meal soup". I didn't want to use the filet in this as I thought it was overkill for the type of dish this is, but found some strip steak at a reasonable price, and it was quite nice. I am not used to scallions in pho, but they were nice as well, although I would consider them optional. Another good choice for an optional ingredient would be fresh mint. I like it, but don't find it served every time with pho. The parsley I thought was unusual too, although I did use it and it was fine. Next time I would probably go with all cilantro, because I like the flavor. I didn't bother to soak my noodles, but cooked them slightly longer (about 90-120 seconds) until they were just cooked through. I also served this with sriracha, but sambal oelek would be great as well. Thanks for posting!


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