It’s so good pho you!

In Recipes on March 8, 2011 at 5:54 am

Like dumplings soup is a much loved food throughout the world.  For peasants soup was also a way to survive.  Like most of the great foods soup was always a popular peasant dish as it is cheap and nutritious.  One of the things that makes soup so good is the fact that the meat, vegetables and aromatics are cooked in the water you are going to eat so the nutrition stays in the dish.  It doesn’t require expensive cuts of meat and it stretches the ingredients a long way.  The stock can be made from the carcass or bones and lots of vegetables and aromatics with only a little meat added the end (if desired).  Other additions that help to make soup more filling are rice, barley, pasta, noodles and the aforementioned dumplings.  Because of its goodness and the ease with which it can be eaten, soup has long been regarded as a suitable food for invalids.

In Vietnam they often eat noodle soup or pho (pronounced ‘fer’) for breakfast.  I’m not sure about breakfast but it makes a great lunch dish in winter and I find it is almost essential when I am trying to overcome a cold.  My favourite place to eat pho in Melbourne is Hung Vuong at 128 Hopkins St., Footscray.  Just remember the small bowl is medium, the medium bowl is large and the large bowl is huge!  With the cooler weather we have been having this summer and autumn and a member of my household feeling  a bit ‘off colour’ I thought it was the perfect time to make a pot myself.  I use the recipe from Maeve O’ Meara’s Food Safari cookbook.  In the book she attributes this recipe to Angie Hong.

Steaming bowls of pho




2 onions

10 cm piece of ginger

2 1/2 kg beef soup bones (about 1 kg will do if that’s all you can get)

5 star anise (I find this a bit too much, depending on size I would only use 2-3)

6 garlic cloves

8 cm piece cassia bark (if you don’t have this a cinnamon stick will also work)

450 g chuck steak or gravy beef

1 1/2 tbs salt (I used much less, about 1 tsp, and adjusted the seasoning at the end)

80 ml fish sauce

1 tbs palm sugar (or brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar)


1 large packet dried rice stick noodles or 1 kg fresh

225 g beef sirloin or fillet, finely sliced across the grain

1 onion, finely sliced

4 spring onions, green part only, finely sliced

1/2 cup chopped coriander

black pepper


lime or lemon wedges

sliced chillies

Thai basil or Vietnamese mint sprigs (ordinary fresh basil and spearmint are fine too)

bean shoots


Place the bones in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil and cook vigorously for 3 mins.  Drain off the water and rinse the bones.  Wipe out the pot, return the bones to it and add 6 litres of water.  Bring to the boil and reduce to a gentle simmer.  Add the onion, ginger and the remaining stock ingredients and cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove meat, cool and refrigerate.  Remove the bones, strain the stock and refrigerate.  Skim off the fat when cold.

To serve, reheat the stock, check for seasoning.  Thinly slice the cold meat.  Prepare noodles according to directions on packet.  Arrange the noodles in the bottom of deep serving bowls, top with slices of cooked meat and some of the thinly sliced raw sirloin.  Garnish with onion, spring onion and coriander.  Grind over some black pepper.  Ladle over the boiling stock.

To eat, taste the broth first, then add lime and chilli to your liking.  Add generous amounts of bean shoots, basil and mint leaves.  This recipe will serve up to 6 people.


If I want to make chicken pho I use the same method substituting a chicken carcass for the beef bones, three chicken legs for the chuck steak and a chicken breast fillet that has been gently simmered in the stock for 20 mins. and thinly sliced for the raw sirloin.

Chicken Pho

Beef Pho

  1. Natalie your website is wonderful I have shown every one. I can’t wait to try the recepies. Janice xxx

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