Phở is a Vietnamese noodle soup usually served in the morning. It’s a build-your-own type meal: you get a bowl of broth and noodles, then you choose which type of meat you want (some of which may be cooked by the nearly-boiling broth), and any accoutrements that you want, featuring fresh herbs, onions, peppers, and hoisin sauce and Sriracha.



  • 5 lbs. beef bones (oxtails and chuck neck bones)
  • Water to 2 gallons
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2” knob of ginger
  • Spices: either a phở spice pack, a tablespoon of Chinese five spice powder, or a mix of star anise, cinnamon, mace, white pepper, and one clove.
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Soy sauce


  • Accoutrements:
    • Thin sliced onion
    • Thin sliced jalapeno
    • Sprigs of Thai or Vietnamese basil
    • Sprigs of cilantro
    • Slices of lime
    • Fresh bean sprouts
  • Meat:
    • Thin-sliced lean steak (raw)
    • Sliced brisket (cooked)
  • Sauces:
    • Hoisin sauce
    • Sriracha
  • Noodles:
    • Bánh phở or
    • Maifun (rice sticks)


  1. Slice the onions in half, peel the ginger and garlic, and roast them briefly under the broiler until they start to blacken
  2. Put the bones in a large stock pot (~2 gallons) and fill to within a few inches from the top. Add the spices, onions, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil for a few minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Maintain the simmer for 5-10 hours, or overnight.
  3. Strain the broth. Lift out the bones and onions and such with a spider, then pour the broth through a cheesecloth-lined colander into another pot, leaving you with perhaps five quarts of cleared broth.
  4. Add the fish and soy sauces, then add salt to taste.
  5. Before serving, prepare the noodles according to the package and add them to a bowl. Add the meat on top. Bring the broth to a boil and ladle over the top of the mix - the fresh-from-the-pot broth should cook the thin sliced steak if used.
  6. Serve with a plate of accoutrements and sauces.

You will make enough broth to serve quite a few people, but it keeps well, and you can have phở for days to come. Serve in the morning with tea, or in the evening with a very cold beer.