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Experience the magic of one of the greatest soups in the world with this easy-to-follow traditional Vietnamese pho recipe! The characteristic broth, which is light and at the same time so tasty, is infused with spices such as cinnamon, star anise and cardamom. Absolutely addicting and every spoon makes you want more!

Vietnamese Pho Recipe

This pho recipe has been in the works for some time. Since our first trip to Vietnam, it has been quietly prepared and revised by various members of the RecipeTin family. We compared notes, discussed angrily how the latest iteration compares to the (many) bowls of pho soup we sipped during our travels and our favorite pho restaurants here in Sydney.

We take our Pho very seriously. One of the greatest noodle soups in the world deserves respect!

And I'm delighted that every member of the RecipeTin family wholeheartedly endorses this definitive recipe!

What is pho

If you're wondering, “What is Pho?” You're probably also asking, “Why is she so crazy about it?”

I don't blame you. It looks like a relatively harmless bowl of beef noodle soup.

That is, until you take your first sip.

The pho soup is everything. It is light and yet full of flavor, deceptively fleshy, piquant, complex, has the smallest hint of fullness and is filled with beautiful spices such as cinnamon.

It is without question one of the best soups in the world!

Best way to try Pho

In Vietnam, of course. 🙂 Here is our Saigon Food Guide, including the best pho seller in town you won't find in any travel guide!

Why should you do pho at home?

I say this is an easy recipe because it doesn't involve any tricky techniques. But it does involve handling piles of meat and bones, a large saucepan of broth, and a lot of patience while it simmer on the stove and does its magic.

So why should you do pho at home?

If you love Pho as much as I do but don't live in reasonable proximity to a (good) Pho restaurant;
When you want to impress in a meeting with something else. This recipe serves 6 as a full meal or 10 to 12 smaller bowls as part of a larger banquet. Add in some Vietnamese rice paper rolls, lemongrass chicken, bun cha (Vietnamese porkballs), or the famous Vietnamese caramel pork!
To save money - you'd pay more than $ 60 for 6 bowls of pho around town;
You feel complacent with a stash of specials in the freezer - this broth will last for months; or
Your idea of ​​a leisurely Sunday involves dawdling in the kitchen (Pho is a great Sunday pottery project!)


2 large onions, halved
150g / 5oz ginger, cut in half

10 star anise
4 cinnamon feathers
4 cardamom pods
3 cloves (the cloves!)
1.5 tablespoons of coriander seeds

1.5kg / 3lb beef brisket
1kg / 2lb meaty beef bones
1 kg / 2 lb of marrow bone (leg, ankle), cut to expose the bone marrow
3.5 liters / 3.75 liters of water (15 cups)

2 tablespoons of white sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
40 ml / 3 tablespoons fish sauce (Note 2)

50g / 1.5 oz dried rice sticks (or 120g / 4oz fresh) (Note 3)
30g / 1 oz beef sirloin, raw, very thinly sliced ​​(Note 4)
3 - 5 breast slices (for broth)

Bean sprouts, handful
Thai basil, 3 - 5 sprigs
Coriander / Scilantro, 3 - 5 sprigs (or more basil)
Lime wedges *
Finely chopped red chilli *
Hoisin sauce *
Sriracha * (for sharpness)


Heat a heavy pan over high heat (no oil) until smoking.
Place the onion and ginger side down in the pan. Cook for a few minutes until charred, then turn. Remove and set aside.
Lightly toast the spices in a dry pan over medium heat for 3 minutes.

Rinse bones and breasts, then cover with water in a large stock pot.
Cook for 5 minutes, then drain.
Rinse the bone and brisket under tap water.

Wipe the pot clean, bring 3.5 liters / 3.75 liters of water to the boil.
Add the bone and breast, onion, ginger, and spices.
Add onion, ginger, spices, sugar, and salt - the water should just barely cover everything.
Cover with a lid, simmer for 3 hours.
Take out the brisket (should be soft), cool and store in the refrigerator for later.
Let the rest of the soup simmer UNCOVERED for 40 minutes.
Strain the broth in another saucepan, discard the bones and spices. Should be approx. 2.5 liters / 2.65 quarts (10 cups), reduce for larger quantities.
Add fish sauce, adjust salt and sugar as needed. The broth should be meaty, smell of spices, piquant and barely sweet.

Prepare rice noodles per package just before serving.
Put the pasta in a bowl. Top with raw beef and breast.
Scoop over about 400/14 oz of hot broth - this is how you cook beef until half raw.
Serve with toppings on the side!

Notes on the recipe:

  1. Bone and brisket for broth
    Brisket - don't skip this as it gives the broth a lot more flavor than all bones and other cuts of beef such as chuck (brisket has an intense beef flavor). If it is left out, the broth will be weak. Leftovers that won't go to waste - see the post for easy, really great ways to use them up. Also FREEZE for months.
    Breast sub - short boned beef ribs
    Boiled beef - see recipe card below for usage, including this Vietnamese Shredded Beef that I shared especially for using leftover cooked beef!
    The marrow bones add fullness to the broth, but not as much flavor. Use leg bones, ankles, anything cut so that you can see some of the marrow (so it can leach out).
    Marrow bones can be underlaid with meatier beef bones, but the soup may lack richness.
    Australia - the meat bones used are called “soup bones” in supermarkets. Breast and marrow bones from the butcher.
  2. Fish sauce - can be subtracted with light soy sauce, but the taste will be a little different. Still VERY tasty.
  3. Noodles - any flat rice noodles are fine here. Use medium sized noodles - not super thin like vermicelli or really wide like Pad See Ew.
  4. Finely sliced ​​beef - Partially freeze (approx. 30 minutes), then cut into slices as thinly as possible. You could also buy thinly sliced ​​frozen beef from Asian butchers.
    Other tender beef is ok too. PS If you no longer want raw beef, just soak it in soup broth before putting it in bowls.
  5. Serving - Traditionally, the soup is served with just pasta, broth, and beef, with all of the toppings listed above on the side. The idea is to help yourself to toppings while consuming the pho.

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