Make Pho at Home

Chao Chao Pho Recipe

10lbs Beef bones
5 tbsp Fish Sauce
⅓ cup Rock Sugar
4 Large Yellow Onions
1 large piece of ginger, about 6” long
1.5 tsp Coriander Seed
4 pieces Whole Cloves
5 piece Star Anise
1 large piece Black Cardamom
1 piece Vietnamese Cinnamon
1.5 Tbsp Whole black peppercorn
Flat rice noodles
Bean sprouts
Any lean, tender beef cut (filet, eye round. etc.)
Asian Basil
Fish Sauce

1. You need some cow bones. You can ask the butcher at any place that sells beef, and they’ll likely either give you bones or sell you some on the cheap. One note from Chef Brezinsky: Avoid oxtail, as it can make the broth cloudy.

2. Clean the bones. This is kind of gross, but when you have beef soup and it has a really dark color, that’s from the blood,” explains Stephan. So put the bones in a bowl or pot, and cover them with tap water. Stir in a big handful of salt, like maybe a cup, and then let the bones sit for about an hour. This draws any blood out of the bones and helps make a clearer broth, and also breaks down some proteins and makes your broth more flavorful. After an hour, dump the water and rinse the bones until the water runs clear.

3. While your bones are soaking, turn on the stove burners to medium-high and set the ginger and the onion right there on the burner. (You probably want to use some long metal tongs for this.) You’re going to char those veggies, turning them occasionally them until they’re black and blistered and sort of bubbly all over. “Any sort of vegetable is mostly water,” the chef says, “so this is concentrating the flavors.” After about 3-4 minutes, take them off and let them cool, then chop the ginger into four or five chunks and throw it in your stock pot. Peel the onions and roughly chop them also, then add to the pan.

4. Add the bones, plus the fish sauce and sugar, and then cover with cold water—another way to ensure your broth will be clear. Let it come to a simmer, and as the stock starts to boil, turn the heat down and watch as a grayish scum forms on top of the liquid. This junk is the enemy of clear broth. Grab a big spoon, and every few minutes skim this crap off. After the first 40 minutes or so you can relax a bit, as your broth should be mostly clear. Still, whenever you walk by the pot, give it a skim.

5. One hour before you’re ready to stop cooking your broth, or about three hours after you started, you should add the spices. Toast them in a pan. Then grab some cheesecloth (or a napkin or something) and wrap up the coriander, cloves, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorn in a little bundle, then toss it in for that final hour.

6. Strain your broth, and you’re mostly done. Now you just have to figure out what you want in your pho. In a pot of water, boil the flat rice noodles until they’re just under-done. “As a rule,” says the chef, “you should use flat noodles. It’s not pho if they aren’t flat noodles.”

7. Okay, you’re basically done. Grab a big bowl, and place your noodles in the bowl, followed by a pile of bean sprouts. As thinly as possible, slice your raw meat, and put a few slices atop the sprouts (they will act as a barrier, allowing the beef to stay raw, unless you don’t want the beef to stay raw, and then you can put them in the bottom of the bowl).

8. Last thing. Add a bunch of green stuff: sliced jalapeños, basil, sliced scallions, sawtooth leaf. The more green stuff the better.

9. Get that broth super hot, and pour it directly into the bowl, all over those ingredients. Give it a squeeze of lime if you want, or a dash of fish sauce. You can also put some hoisin and Sriracha on the side for people to dip their beef into, if you so desire.

10. Eat.