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

Recipe by riffraff
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.