Mother Earth Living

The Rich Variety of Vietnam - Hanoi Soup (Pho Bo

By Leslie Coons
April/May 2003
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Serves 6

Pho Bo, or beef noodle soup, is considered the national dish of Vietnam. It’s also a popular breakfast dish there, according to Segundo Torres, an Asian food expert at Johnson Wales University College of Culinary Arts in Providence, Rhode Island. His version includes the traditional platter of fresh herbs.

· 3 pounds oxtail, shin or neck (or beef short ribs)
· 1 tablespoon salt
· One 3-inch piece ginger
· 1 medium onion
· 6 whole star anise
· 11/2 cinnamon sticks
· 2 bay leaves
· 4 whole cloves
· 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
· 1 tablespoon sugar
· 1 pound rice noodles (banh pho)
· 1 pound lean beef cut into paper-thin slices
· Garnishes
· Lime wedges
· Mung bean sprouts
· Fresh sprigs of cilantro, Vietnamese coriander, anise, basil and mint
· Chiles, fresh and thinly sliced Scallions, chopped
· Black peppercorns, freshly ground Fish sauce

In a large stockpot, cover the oxtails with water and bring to a boil. Drain the water, cover the oxtails with 14 cups fresh water and add the salt. Bring to a boil again.

Meanwhile, using tongs, char the ginger and onion by putting them over a low gas burner or electric burner. Remove from heat and rinse off any ash. Add the ginger and onion to the stock.

Add the spices and sugar to the stock. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming occasionally, for about 21/2 hours. Strain and set aside.

Create a platter of garnishes (see list above). In a large bowl, cover the rice noodles with cold water and soak until pliable, about 30 minutes. Drain.

In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil. Put a large handful of noodles into a strainer that fits into the pot. Dip the strainer and noodles into the hot stock and swirl the noodles around with chopsticks until tender but still chewy, about 20 seconds. Shake the noodles dry and dump them into a large soup bowl. Repeat using the remaining noodles.

Place equal amounts of beef over the noodles and divide the hot stock among the bowls. Allow each person to garnish soup as desired.

For more recipes from "The Rich Variety of Vietnam," click here.

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