Pho Bo

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
“The aroma is captivating and the taste a deliberate collusion of salty, sweet, and umami all in one.” Ann Le

The star of this extraordinary soup is the broth.

In a very large stockpot 3 lbs. beef short ribs and 2 lbs. oxtail are covered with water and brought to a boil.
Two large yellow onions and a knob of ginger root are charred over an open flame.
Toasted anise pods, cloves, peppercorns and smashed garlic cloves are wrapped in cheesecloth to make a spice bag.
The charred onions and ginger root, spice bag, cinnamon sticks, daikon, and shallots are added to the pot.
The broth is simmered for many hours. Then fish sauce, sugar and salt are added to taste, and simmered some more.
The fragrant broth is cooled and strained.

Cook’s Tip: The process takes quite a while, so make a large batch. After chilling overnight in the refrigerator, freeze a portion of the broth for another time.


The broth is re-heated and cooked noodles (traditionally flat rice noodles) are added.

Thinly sliced beef is cooked right in the bowl of hot broth.

The Pho Bo is garnished with bean sprouts, sliced scallions, fiery chiles, cilantro, lime. Vietnam Hot Garlic Sauce and Fish Sauce served on the side.

This recipe was inspired by Ann Le in the Little Saigon Cookbook, Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California’s Little Saigon

11 thoughts on “Pho Bo”

  1. Heavens! Your photos are incredible, and that soup looks like the best thing ever. I’ve wanted to try pho for a long, long time now. Perhaps I’ll just have to make some.

  2. Oh Lisa – you must make this. It is so wonderful. Not like anything else. Charring the onion and ginger on a open flame is critical. It is worth the time to make it right, even the oxtail is important. Let me know how it goes…My description just gives you a “taste” but I would be happy to provide a complete recipe if you like.

  3. You just gave me an inspiration for this weekends meal! Thank you. 🙂
    At my brother’s restaurant, all the stocks and jus for gravy are made in-house: They use a huge electric stockpot which keeps the stock at a very low simmer. I try to imitate that by putting the stockpot in the oven Ăłvernight, at 185 F. Works beautifully.

  4. Lori Lynn, Your new banner looks so inviting, a great place to pull out a chair a dine on your Pho Bo!Your photo”s look fantastic!!

  5. Hi Merisi – long and slow simmered stocks, YAY! How was your weekend meal?

    FA- THANK YOU. I spent hours on this. I am very happy with this photo. Thanks for your support.

    HI Marie – I was hoping that was the case. As you see, the table is set, but there is no food, it is ready for the next course, whatever that may be. Thank you so much.

    Maryann- this is one of the best, easy to make, but takes time to simmer. Plan to serve it the next day and the day after that…You’ll be everybody’s hero.

  6. Lori Lynn

    I just found your blog by searching for Pho recipies. I saw your offer to send Lisa the complete recipies. If the still stands for newbies I would love it also

    TIA

  7. Hi there. I’m a new food blogger and was really inspired by your blog. As I Pho lover, I especially loved your post on Pho. I’ve prepared it myself a couple times, but it’s been a few years. You’ve given me the inspiration I need to get back into it.

  8. Yummy! Great pictures! I had tried to make vietnamese noodle one time. The soup did not turn out that well, because I didn’t use the broth but beef and some bones. I totally agree with you that “the star of this extraordinary soup is the broth”.
    This post makes me want to have pho bo for dinner. 🙂

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