Pho Po (Beef Pho)

Phở or pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef or chicken. Pho is popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world.

I was visiting a friend who made this a few days ago. It was quite delicious.

Beef Broth:

1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
2 pods star anise
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
2-ounce chunk fresh ginger, roughly crushed (don’t bother peeling)
1 onion, cut into thick slices
3 pounds mixed beef shanks and oxtails
1 pound chicken wings
1/2 large Fuji apple (don’t bother peeling)
5 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar

To serve:

8 ounces eye of round or sirloin steak, thinly sliced
14 ounces thin rice noodles “sticks in the 1/16-inch-thick range (banh pho)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Thai bird chiles, thinly sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
2 cups fresh herbs, including cilantro, Thai basil, and mint
2 limes, quartered


  1. Beef Broth: Toast the spices over medium heat in a large pressure cooker 3 to 5 minutes or until fragrant.
  2. Add the ginger and onion and blacken slightly. A few of the spices may burn a bit and that’s fine.
  3. Add the shanks, oxtails, chicken wings, apple, salt, and 10 cups of water. Attach and lock the lid according to your cooker’s instructions and bring to full pressure over medium-high heat. Once the cooker is steaming and whistling, back down on the heat to just maintain full pressure and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, firm up the eye of round by placing in the freezer for 20 minutes then slice very thinly across the grain. Cover and refrigerate while the broth continues to cook.
  5. After 30 minutes kill the heat and allow the pressure cooker to cool for 5 minutes, then slowly vent the pressure using your cooker’s pressure relief valve or park under cold running water until the safety lid lock disengages, usually around 30 seconds.
  6. Carefully remove the lid and remove the larger pieces of meat, then strain first through a colander then again through a colander or fine strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Finish by stirring in the fish sauce and palm sugar.
  7. When the shanks are cool enough to handle, slice or pull the meat from the bones and set aside.

Note: everything up to this point can be done up to a day ahead. When you’re ready to serve:

Place the rice noodles in a baking dish, cover with boiling water, and soak for 15 minutes before draining thoroughly.

Distribute the noodles into wide soup bowls (better be deep too) and top with the slices of (raw) eye of round and a few pieces of the cooked beef.

Pour on the hot broth to cover and garnish as desired with the scallions, chiles, sprouts, herbs, and limes.

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