Authentic Vietnamese Beef Pho

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Note to self: This blog post is super late…we just came back from our LA trip and this was meant to be posted on Moudi’s birthday but was postponed until I came back. LA was so much fun! I’ve never been to the west coast and it was an unbelievable trip…we went with my family for Eid and we are determined to make it an annual thing to go on a family vacation together every Eid. The best part is that while we were there Maryam (Moudi’s sister) texting him asking if we want to do a family trip with his family as well to Turks and Caicos! I am super excited…I LOVE traveling and I have a travel Instagram account called @TheAdventuresOfTheHeart where I take the Awkward Yeti heart plush toy with me on all our adventures.

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Moudi had gotten me that plush toy the first time we met in person and he came to visit me and my family. It’s an inside thing while we were talking and I decided to take it with me on all my travel adventures and take pictures with it as if it represented Moudi. It’s the most precious gift from our relationship, and even more so because it’s not sold anymore.

Anyways, this is our first birthday together celebrating as a married couple so I wanted to do something special for him. I remember when we were in the “just talking stage” of our relationship he mentioned how much he missed eating beef pho and how it’s one of his favorite meals. Since then I decided that if this went anywhere I wanted to make it for him for his birthday and make it special.

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I adapted this recipe from a couple of different blog sites…,, and This is definitely holy grail status and tasted super yummy! The only thing is that I think I had the ratio of meat/bones and water off or I cooked the broth down too much. It ended up serving only 2 pho bowls. Next time I think I’ll get a bigger pot so I can freeze the broth and pull it out whenever I want vs starting from scratch and cooking for 2 days. Also! the broth tastes a lot like paya…if you’ve ever had it in Pakistani cuisine…I think it’s the distinct flavor you get from the cow hooves that bring about that flavor. Totally worth it and from now on it’ll be an annual tradition for Moudi’s birthday.


  • 1 lb cow hooves
  • 1 lb brisket
  • 1 lb beef shank
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 pods star anise
  • 1 Tbsp. cloves
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp whole coriander seed
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1 piece dried cardamom
  • 1 habanero pepper (optional)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 large hand ginger (about 6 oz)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 6 scallions (optional)
  • 1 large carrot

For serving: (all optional depending on what you like and have on hand)
8 ounces beef flank steak
Rice noodles
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Thai bird chiles, thinly sliced
4 medium limes, quartered
1 cup bean sprouts
2 cups fresh cilantro, Thai basil, or mint leaves
Hoisin or Sriracha sauce
Perilla leaves
Raw onion slices


Parboil the bones and shanks: 

  1. Place the bones and shanks in a large stockpot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Boil until a gray foam gathers on top, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the bones and shanks into a colander and discard the water.
  4. Rinse the bones and shanks under cool running water.
  5. Rinse out the stockpot and return the bones and shanks to the pot; set aside.

Char the onions and ginger: 

  1. Arrange an oven rack directly under the broiler and heat to high.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Peel and halve the 2 onions, halve the ginger hand and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle with the oil, toss to combine, and arrange in a single layer.
  5. Broil, stirring or rotating the pan every 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion and ginger are blackened, 15 to 20 minutes total. Set aside to cool.
  6. Once cooled, remove the burned charred bits.

Toast the spices: 

  1. Place 1 cinnamon stick, 5 pods star anise, 1 Tbsp. cloves, 2 tsp whole coriander seed, 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds and 1 piece whole cardamom in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and toast.
  2. Stir frequently to avoid burning, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the spices to a small bowl and let cool.
  4. Secure the spices in a small spice bag or bundle made of cheesecloth.

Simmer the broth: 

  1. Add the bones, brisket, 2 onions, ginger, carrot, 4 garlic (smashed), 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp brown sugar1 habanero pepper, 6 whole green onions and spice bundle to the stockpot.
  2. Add 24 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 to 6 hours.
  4. While the broth is simmering, occasionally use a clean spoon to skim any gray foam from the surface.
  5. The broth is ready when it reduces by half and the brisket is fork-tender.
  6. The broth can be made up to a week in advance, or, if serving immediately, feel free to prepare the noodles, flank steak, and accompaniments while the broth cooks.
  1. Strain the broth: Remove the brisket from the broth and reserve for serving with the finished soup. Taste the broth. Does it need a little more salt or sugar? Make those adjustments now. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth set over a large bowl; discard the solids. The broth should be cooled and then chilled immediately for storing, or can be returned to a pot on the stove to return to a boil for serving.
  2. Blanch the noodles: Place the rice noodles in a large bowl, cover with warm water, and soak. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drain the noodles and add them to the boiling water. Cook until tender, 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Freeze the flank steak: Place the flank steak on a plate and freeze 15 minutes.
  4. Slice the flank steak: Thinly slice the flank steak across the grain; you may find a serrated knife works best for this. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. Prepare the accompaniments: Slice the reserved brisket. Make a small tray of the herbs, chiles, limes, bean sprouts, and sauces.
  6. Prepare pho bowls: Divide the noodles, brisket, raw flank steak (the boiling broth will cook the steak because it’s sliced really thin), and scallions among wide, deep bowls.
  7. Boil the broth: Bring the broth back to a boil over medium-high heat. Top each bowl with the boiling broth.
  8. Serving and eating: Put the condiments in a small bowl on the side for dipping meat, as to not ruin the flavor of the broth.
  • Make-ahead: The broth can be prepared and kept refrigerated for 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. The beef can be sliced and kept refrigerated for several hours (no longer than 24 hours). The noodles can be prepared, tossed with a bit of neutral-tasting oil, and kept refrigerated for up to a day before serving. The toppings can also be prepped up to a day ahead and kept refrigerated until serving.
  • Storing leftovers: Leftover noodles stored in broth will ultimately absorb all the broth and become gummy. If you have leftovers, store the noodles, the broth, the beef, and the toppings in separate containers. Raw slices of beef will keep for a day or two; they can also be quickly cooked in hot broth and then kept refrigerated for up to 5 days. When reheating, assemble the noodles, beef, and broth in a bowl and microwave; top with garnishes before serving.

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Original recipe adapted from:

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