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  • Writer's pictureDeana Thai

Phở Bò - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup - Beef Phở

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

Velvety broth, chewy noodles, savory meats and fresh herbs create a beautiful combination of flavors and textures bringing joy to any tastebuds!
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Phở is used to describe a dish consisting of flavorful broth, rice noodles, proteins (beef or chicken), and fresh herbs. Main flavors can derived from star anise, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, cardamon, coriander seeds, lemongrass, sweet yellow onions and bones. Phở is one of those dishes that is made in homes, restaurants and as a street food. Growing up my grandma and mom always made a big pot of beef or chicken phở and we would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Where ever one may enjoy a bowl of phở, each place or family has their own special way of making it. Phở has also evolved as more ingredients are more easily accessible and affordable. Types of ingredients used varies from region to region as well. And also thanks to the natural progression of fusion and mainstream tastebuds, one can find creative phở bowls in metropolitan areas and tourist destinations!

In my own household, I have developed my own way of making the stock for phở based on my family's preference. I'm using chicken bouillon instead of fish sauce to salt up my broth and a lot of different dried and fresh spices to bring earthy flavors into my stock. I also use a variety of fresh veggies and herbs to incorporate fresh flavors and textures to the bowl of phở.

For the stock, I generally use beef neck bones or any type of bones available along with tendon to make a really rich and velvety broth. And I simmer the bones and tendons for a minimum of 4-hours on medium heat. The tendons will be tender at that point and must be removed. The trick for a clear light color stock is to add the dried spices in the last hour of cooking or two if you are simmering your stock for more than 4-hours. By adding in the spices last allows the flavors to still be there and it won't have a sour or numbing taste due to over cooking them. And for the best flavors, the dried spices need to be roasted to bring out natural oils that contain bolder flavors. Since it takes so long to make a great tasting broth, I always make a gigantic pot and freeze the extra broth. Then my family can still enjoy phở on a busy work week night!

As for meat, I will use any of the following depending on what I can find at the market that is fresh looking. What types? It could be any of the following meats: thinly sliced ribeye, sliced brisket/flank steak, ox tail, short ribs, or a slightly seared tri-tip thinly sliced. I say, whether you want to keep it traditional or be bold with different cuts of meats; do what makes you excited about the phở! I hope you enjoy my version of phở and find that with practice, making it will become easier and easier.


Stock - 16 Quart Stock Pot

  • 2lbs beef bones

  • 2lbs beef tendons

  • 3-4 inch ginger piece

  • 3 stalks of lemongrass

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 1.5 - 2 sticks palm sugar

  • 4 tbsp salt

  • 1.5 cups chicken/mushroom bouillon

  • 1/4 cup sugar

Phở Spices

  • 1 tbsp dried coriander seeds

  • 1 tbsp dried whole cloves

  • 1 tbsp dried fennel seeds

  • 1 tbsp star anise (5-6 pieces)

  • 1 large or 2 small cardamon seed

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon bark

Choices of Beef

  • 2 lbs Thinly sliced ribeye/brisket/flank

  • 2 lbs beef or pork meatballs

or .... the choice is up to you and meats will need to be cooked separate and or prepared differently....

  • 6 lbs oxtail

  • 3-4 lbs seared tri-tip

  • 4-5 lbs grilled short ribs


  • Fresh rice noodles

  • Bean sprouts

  • Limes

  • Chilis (Thai/jalapeños/serranos)

  • Thinly sliced red/yellow onions

  • Cilantro

  • Green spring onions/garlic chives

  • Thai basil

  • Spearmint

  • Purple Shiso/perilla leaves

  • Dry shallots

  • Sriracha Sauce

  • Hoisin Sauce


Bone Pre-Boil Rinse

  1. Add bones and tendons to a pot.

  2. Cover with water and add one tablespoon of salt.

  3. Bring to a boil. Let pot boil for 5-minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and rinse bones and tendon throughly under warm running water.

  5. Be sure to remove all debris. This will ensure a clear phở broth.

Stock & Meat (Minimum of 4-hours)

  1. In a 16-quart pot, add 12-quarts of water and set on high heat.

  2. Add clean bones and tendons.

  3. Roast or broil ginger and onion. Add to stock pot.

  4. Smash lemongrass stalks to release oils. Tied with twine and add to stock pot.

  5. Add 4 tablespoons of salt and palm sugar into the broth.

  6. Let stock come to a boil then reduce heat to medium or a simmering stage. Allow to simmer for 3-hours.

  7. Add one quart of water after each hour of simmering to compensate for evaporation.

  8. It's important to only simmer the stock not boil. Higher cooking temperature will sour the broth causing a metallic and numbing after taste. Not a pleasant flavor.

  9. Remove tendons after 4-hours, if it is fork tender, it is done. Allow to cool, then slice into thin pieces. Set aside.

  10. Add in meatballs and let them soften and pump up.

  11. In the last hour or two of cooking, add roasted spiced pouch, chicken/mushroom bouillon and sugar. Add additional water if a lot has evaporated again.

  12. When all seasoning are added and it's almost time to serve, keep broth on medium-low heat to stay warm. It must be at a temperature high enough to cook raw slices of meat.

Spice Pouch

  1. Tie up spices in a reusable cheese cloth or muslim fabric. Set aside until last hour of simmering the stock.

  2. Before adding to stock, roast spices to bring out oils.

  3. Two ways, spices can be roasted under the oven's broiler before placing into the cheese cloth. Or place spices into cheese cloth and microwave for 25-seconds in a 700 watt microwave. If yours is a higher wattage, reduce time to 20-seconds.

  4. Add into stock immediately. DO NO RINSE THE SPICES. You will lose all your flavors.

Noodles, Fresh Herbs & Veggies

  1. Portion out fresh noodles into individual sizes. Roll them up and set aside. This will make it easier and faster to serve when it's time to eat. Cover them up so they don't dry out.

  2. Soak in salt water and rinse all veggies. Let them dry in a strainer or on a cloth towel. Set them aside until it's time to serve.

  3. Slice and or chop red onion, spring onions/chives, limes and chili.

  4. Set hoisin, sriracha, lime wedges and chili slices on serving table for people to help themselves. Set the bean sprouts on serving table too if you don't plan on placing at the bottom of each bowl.


  1. For pre-slice meats, there's nothing to prepare. Just add on top of cooked noodles and dress with simmering broth. Meat will cook perfectly in broth.

  2. For oxtail, do a pre-boil rinse and simmering for 4-hours in stock. Remove and set aside when it's fork tender.

  3. For tri-tip, salt and pepper outside and broil on low on middle rack or grill 375°F to sear outside only. Middle will be raw. Slice into small thin bite size pieces and set aside. Broth will finish cooking the meat once ready to serve.

  4. For short ribs, salt and pepper both sides and marinate for 20-30 minutes. Grill on 400°F for 2-3 minutes per side to sear. Cut in halves and place in bowls after broth is added.

  5. Pre-made meatballs need to warm up in broth during the end of cooking. It will absorb broth flavors and pump up!

Dishing Everything Up

  1. Noodles: Fresh noodles only take 30-40 seconds to cook in boiling water. Toss around in boiling water. Remove and drain before adding to individual bowls.

  2. **If you like cooked soften bean sprouts, add to bottom of bowl along with noodles. The hot broth will finish cooking both the noodles and sprouts.**

  3. Top with meats you have prepared, tendon and meatballs.

  4. Dress with hot simmering broth.

  5. Garnish with fresh sliced onions, dried shallots and herbs.

  6. Guests can add lime, chili, hoisin, sriracha and or bean sprouts to their individual preference.

I generally sample my broth before adding any additional seasoning because if the broth is perfect, I just want to enjoy the pure slow cooking flavors that have developed. I hope you enjoy my recipe as much as my friends and family do! Bon Appétit!

Shopping for Ingredients & SuppliesStar

Coriander Seeds:

Cinnamon Bark:

Cardamon Seeds:

Reuseable Cloth Spice Pouch:

Kitchen Twine:

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