Pho, the famous noodle soup of Hanoi and
considered by some to be Vietnam's national dish, is a common breakfast or
snack. Steaming bowls of soup, often topped with chopped cooked chicken
instead of the more expensive rare beef, are sold from numerous food
stalls and small restaurants in city streets.
The success of this dish depends on the
full-flavored stock, for which there is no quick substitute. Even though
it takes a long time to cook, it is well worth the effort. The stock can
be made in advance and frozen, making it easy to put the dish together
Beef shin bones
Fresh ginger, thinly sliced into 2 in length
Nuoc cham sauce
Thick fresh rice noodles
Rump steak, thinly sliced
Spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
Medium onion, very thinly sliced
Place the bones, gravy beef, ginger, salt
and water in a large pan.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low
and simmer very gently, uncovered, for 3 1/2 hours.
Skim off any scum that forms on the
Add the peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves,
coriander seeds and nuoc cham sauce. Cook for another 40 minutes.
Remove the gravy beef and set it aside to
Drain the stock, reserving all the liquid
and discarding the bones and spices. Return the liquid to the pan. When
the gravy beef is cool enough to handle, cut it against the grain into
very fine slices. Set aside.
Close to serving time, plunge the noodles
into a pan of boiling water and cook them for about 10 seconds only,
otherwise they will soften and fall apart. Drain the noodles well and
divide them among large individual soup bowls.
Arrange the toppings on a platter in the
centre of the table.
Bring the beef stock to a rapid boil.
Place some slices of the cooked meat as well as a few slices of the raw
steak into each bowl of noodles. Ladle the boiling stock over the top,
sprinkle over the spring onion (scallion) and onion slides and serve.
Each diner chooses their own toppings and can also add sauces such as
sweet chili sauce and hoisin sauce to their dish.
Chopped red chili, bean sprouts, fresh
purple basil leaves, chopped spring onions (scallions), thin lime
wedges, fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves.