How to Make Pho

The ultimate in international comfort foods, pho sho.

Gathering your ingredients to make the rich and flavorful beef broth — the essence of pho — can take a little extra effort, especially if you live in a smaller city that doesn’t have an Asian market. So I simplified it for you:
 

get the genius kitchen app.

Watch on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android, Roku, or Fire TV.

Learn More

1 TAKE STOCK TO MAKE STOCK

You will need 2 onions and about a 4” piece of fresh ginger, both of which are easily located in nearly every produce department. You’ll also need 3 pounds of beef bones/meat.
• If you have access to a butcher at your grocer, try asking for leg or knuckle bones.
• If that proves difficult, go for oxtail. I was able to find oxtail in all of my local stores AND superstores. Note though, because oxtail is more popular for cooking it can be a little more expensive.
• If you are unable to find oxtail without spending a ton of $$, go for chuck.
Pictured here are 1 1/2 pounds of oxtail and 1 1/2 pounds of chuck.
 

Next you need to seek out the spices. You will need 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 6 whole cloves and 6 whole star anise. (You can also opt to add 1 cardamom pod and a tablespoon of coriander seeds; some recipes call for them and some do not. It’s a matter of preference.) You will also need 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (half that if using table salt), 2 1/4 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/4 cup fish sauce. Additional tools needed include a fine mesh strainer, a piece of cheesecloth and twine.

Shopping Tip: Before perusing the spice aisle of your grocery store, check the international foods section for the whole spices. Because many of these spices are more common in international cooking they can be easier to locate AND a little more affordable.
 
Sugar Tip: If you DO have access to an Asian market or specialty food store, authentic pho would use yellow rock sugar instead of granulated sugar.
 

Advertisement

2 PARBOIL AND CHAR

To save time you can parboil your meat and char your onions and ginger at the same time.
 
Pho broth is rich, delicious and crystal clear. You don’t want it to appear filmy or greasy. To accomplish this, you are going to parboil your meat and soup bones. Fill a large stock pot with water and bring it to a slow boil. Gently drop in the meat and bones. Continue to boil on high for 10 minutes, taking care to use a fine mesh strainer to remove any scuz from the water as you cook. Drain the water, rinse your pot WELL to remove any greasy residue. Rinse the meat as well. Note that you are saving the meat you just parboiled but dumping the water you boiled it in. 
 
Gas burners are great for charring veggies, but not everyone has a gas stove. This is the oven/broiler method. While you are parboiling the meat and bones, turn the broiler of your oven on high. Slice the ginger in half lengthwise, and halve the onions. Place them on a baking sheet and brush with a little cooking oil. Broil the onions and ginger for 10-15 minutes, turning them halfway through. Let them cool, then peel the outer skin from the onion, and gently peel the ginger.
 

3 BOIL THE BROTH

Take that stock pot you rinsed clean and add 6 quarts of cool water to it. Then add the rinsed meat and bones, the charred onions and ginger, the fish sauce, salt, sugar and spices. You’ll notice that I used a piece of cheesecloth and some baker’s twine to make a pouch for my spices. Bring everything to a boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Use a slotted spoon to remove any boneless cooked meat from the pot (if you used chuck, for example). Let the meat cool and then refrigerate (to prevent any discoloration). Continue cooking the broth for 3-5 hours. The liquid will reduce a lot.
 

4 PREPARE TO SERVE

There are two crucial components to pho: the broth, which we’ve spent all this time on, and the toppings. The broth is the foundation, all full of flavor, and the toppings are the fun part! When your broth is ready, grab your slotted spoon and remove the pouch with the spices, the ginger pieces and the soup bones. Pull any meat you can from the bones (the tender, shredded meat in the 11 o’clock position on the plate shown above). Take the beef from the fridge and slice it very thinly (the meat you see in the 4 o’clock position above).
 
Additionally, you’ll want to plate fresh chopped cilantro (2 o’clock), thinly sliced chiles (1 o’clock), mung bean sprouts (6 o’clock), fresh mint (7 o'clock), limes (center), and Thai basil (not pictured). Everyone likes their pho served a little differently. Making a plate of toppings and letting each guest customize is the best way to serve.
 

5 SERVE

Prepare 1 pound of rice noodles according to package directions. Add a portion to each bowl. Bring your broth back up to a boil, it needs to be piping hot! The reason is the flank steak: You need 1/2 pound of VERY THINLY SLICED flank steak for serving. The boiled broth will gently poach the steak as you ladle it into each bowl. Place a few strips of the flank steak in each bowl with the noodles and then ladle the hot liquid into each bowl.
 
Serve guests their hot bowl of pho with the plate of additional toppings you prepared.
 

TIP
Freezing the raw flank steak for 10-15 minutes before slicing will let you achieve paper thin slices.

About Heather T.

Heather, who runs SugarDishMe.com, has been making messes in the kitchen since she was a little kid when her mom handed her a cook book and told her, “If you can read, you can cook.” Today she serves up fresh, healthy eats, easy weeknight meals and decadent sweet treats.