other people's phở

My phở recipe is of course based on other people's phở recipes, and really very similar to Chuck Taggart's. You can start with his and run with it. You can also make a chicken-y, phở-inspired soup that's a little bit simpler, I think.

This is how I run with it...

cilantro, y'all

Rose's phở

  • 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
  • salt
  • peppercorns
  • 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
Put the anise, cardamom, and cinnamon into a big tea ball, because you're going to want to fish them out after two hours or so of simmering - leaving them in too long makes the broth too licoricey. Add all of the stock ingredients to the pot, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, about two hours. Fish out that tea ball of spices, check the salt level and add some if you need it, then simmer some more, until the roast and oxtails are falling apart.

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 water 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
Bring the pot of broth with the lime juice and green and yellow onions added to the table, and divide the next bunch of ingredients among bowls, filling about 1/3 to 1/2 full.

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
Ladle the broth over the noodles and raw beef in the bowls; the flank steak will cook almost instantly. Everyone adds their own combination of the next bunch of ingredients.

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
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