Making Pho in Dunbar, Scotland

Pho Noodle Soup

Servings: 4
Author: Ginger and Scotch
Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup made with beef stock simmered for hours with star anise, cloves, cinnamon, onion and ginger. It is served with sliced raw beef, garnished with fresh Asian herbs, and finished off with a squeeze of lime.


For the broth:

  • 4 pounds beef bones , preferably with marrow; cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound stewing beef (chuck, brisket, etc), rinsed, cut into 2" cubes
  • 1 3- inch piece of ginger , peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion , halved and peeled
  • 1/4 cup Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 3- inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish:

  • 1 pound 1/4-inch rice noodles
  • 2 bunches scallions , thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves , chopped
  • 1/2 cup Asian basil leaves
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/2 yellow onion , very thinly sliced
  • 1 large lime , cut into wedges
  • 1/2 pound beef (flank, sirloin, filet mignon), trimmed of fat and sliced very thin across the grain
  • Hoisin sauce for dipping the meat
  • Hot chilies , sliced or Sriracha sauce (optional)


  1. Place the beef bones and stewing meat into a large stockpot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a full boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the water and gently rinse the meat and bones. Return the meat and bones to the pot and cover with 2 quarts (2 liters) of fresh, cold water. This process will give you a cleaner and clearer broth.
  2. Bring the stock to boil again over high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes and skim any scum that surfaces.
  3. Add the remaining broth ingredients, cover and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, occasionally skimming any scum that surfaces. Remove the stewing meat and once the meat is cool enough to handle, slice thinly and place in the fridge for later use.
  4. Simmer the broth for another 1.5 hours and carefully strain through a fine sieve. Remove any remaining tendon from the bones, slice thinly and set aside in the fridge with the cooked beef.
  5. De-fat the stock by skimming the fat from the surface with a spoon or ladle. (I sometimes use a fat separator to retain as much of the stock as possible.)
  6. Add the fish sauce, then the sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Arrange the cilantro, scallions, bean sprouts, onions, Asian basil, lime wedges, and chillis on a large plate in separate piles. Place the hoisin sauce in small dipping bowls as a condiment for the meat.
  8. Prepare the rice noodles, drain and divide among the bowls.
  9. Just before serving, return the broth to a full boil.
  10. Place the raw sliced onions, the reserved cooked meat and tendon, and the slices of raw beef over the noodles in each bowl.
  11. Carefully ladle the boiling broth over all the ingredients in the serving bowls. The raw beef should be submerged in the broth to cook properly.
  12. Serve immediately, along with the garnish and hoisin sauce.