This is how I run with it...
- a package of marrow bones, preboiled, water discarded, rinsed
- oxtails - I dunno, a package of maybe six pieces?
- a small chuck roast, about 2 lbs.
- a knob of ginger, unpeeled and toasted under the broiler just until it begins to char on both sides
- a big yellow onion, quartered and toasted under the broiler with the ginger
- 1/2 c fish sauce - you want the thin kind, my favorite's Rufina Patis, but Squid or Three Crabs is also good
- 8 star anise pods
- 8 cardamom pods
- a cinnamon stick, about 3"
- 2 big bay leaves
- a hot pepper if that's how you roll - you can even leave the seeds in if you want
- water to fill your largest stockpot - I think mine holds two gallons
Strain the broth into another stockpot, reserving the meat and bones, and discarding the mushy vegetables and bay leaves. At this point you want to pour a kettle of boiling over the rice noodles in a big bowl (or maybe that first stock pot). Chop up the chuck roast and the oxtail meat and add them back to the pot, bring the stock to a rolling boil, and add the next bunch of ingredients. Don't forget about your noodles - drain them and rinse in cool water once they're softened.
Finishing the broth:
- juice of a lime
- a bunch of green onions, sliced in 1" or so pieces
- a sweet yellow onion, peeled and sliced into paper-thin rings
- fish sauce to taste
In the bowls:
- 1 pkg thin rice noodles, soaked in boiling water just until softened
- a flank steak, sliced super thin - slicing's best done while the steak is partially frozen, trust me
On the table:
- mung bean sprouts - get a huge bag of super-fresh sprouts at the Asian market for around a buck
- a bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
- a bunch of basil, roughly chopped
- chilies, sliced
- lime wedges
- fish sauce