Blog

Authentic Vietnamese recipes from the Motherland

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

Hi. My name is Vicky and I’m a pho-coholic.

If you love Vietnamese food, no doubt you have tried Vietnamese rice noodle soup, Pho. Pho is served in practically every Vietnamese restaurant here in the States, so much so that people think Vietnamese food is mainly pho. It is just the tip of the iceberg in Vietnamese cuisine but it’s the most iconic of them all.

 Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

 Beef Bones for Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

Beef Bones for Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

There are two major types of pho: pho bo (beef) and pho ga (chicken). The beef version is fancier than the chicken version. Therefore, taking longer to cook. The beef version is made and eaten with assorted cuts and parts of beef. The stock is made from beef shank, neck and ox tail. The meaty toppings include thinly sliced eye-round beef steak, flank, brisket, beef balls, tendon and tripe. It's also spiced with more aromatics than the chicken version: cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, coriander, and cloves.

 Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

 Dried Spices for Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

Dried Spices for Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

Both versions are served in a piping hot bowl, topped with chopped green onions, white onions and cilantro. A platter of Thai Basil, lime wedges, bean sprouts and sliced jalapenos also accompany the bowl. If you’re lucky, you may also get the hard-to-find culantro (ngo gai) herb in your vegetable platter.

 Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

 Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

In Vietnam, Pho is very popular for breakfast. Vendors shop for the freshest ingredients in the wee hours of the morning to make the deep and flavorful stock in time for the morning rush hour. Locals would stop by for a hearty and delicious breakfast-in-a-bowl before heading to work.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup is labor intensive and all the components take up a lot of space in the fridge. So when I crave for pho at home, I make a large pot and pretty much have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because the taste is simply un-pho-gettable, I don’t mind having it several times a day.

 Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò)

 Vietnamese meat balls and rare slices of eye-of-round beef

Vietnamese meat balls and rare slices of eye-of-round beef

 Thai basil, onion, limes, green onions, cilantro, Hoisin sauce, and Sriracha sauce

Thai basil, onion, limes, green onions, cilantro, Hoisin sauce, and Sriracha sauce

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

Serves 7-10

Ingredients

    Stock

  • 3 lbs beef bones (I like to use an equal amount of ox tail, neck bones and shank bones with marrow
  • 5 liters water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 large shallots (about 10 oz; roast whole in oven at 350°F for 40 minutes, allow to cool then peel)
  • 3 oz ginger (roast in oven at 350°F for 40 minutes; allow to cool then slice into thick slices with peel-on)

  • Dried Spices

  • 1 stick Asian cinnamon (about 15 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons dried cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried coriander seeds
  • 3 dried cardamom pods
  • 3 dried star anise

  • Stock Seasoning

  • 150 grams rock sugar
  • 1 tablespoon MSG
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons salt

  • Pho Meaty Toppings

  • Any meat from beef bones after making stock (particularly ox tail)
  • 2 lbs thinly sliced eye-round beef steak
  • 2 11-oz bags cooked beef balls (Bo Vien)

  • Noodles & Vegetable Toppings

  • 3 lbs fresh rice noodles (soak in cold water for 30 minutes to remove excess starch)
  • 1 small medium white/yellow onion (slice thinly)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (roughly chop)
  • 5 green onions/scallions (slice thilny)
  • 3 jalapenos (slice thilny)
  • 3 limes (cut into wedges)
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Clean the beef bones. Cleaning the bones will rid of all the impurities and ensure a clear broth. To clean the bones, bring a large pot of water with 1 tablespoon salt to a rolling boil. Add beef bones (except shank with bone marrow) and boil for 2-3 minutes. For shanks with bone marrow, quickly dunk them in the boiling salted water. This way the shanks are cleaned but the marrow do not melt away. Remove the bones and give them a quick scrub and rinse.
  2. In another large pot, add 5 liters water and bring to a boil. Add cleaned bones, roasted shallots and ginger to the pot. Cook for 3 hours, semi-covered on medium low heat. Occasionally, use a ladle to scum off the impurities that float to the top. After 3 hours, remove bones, ginger and shallot from stock and discard. There may be good amount of tender meat on the bones (particularly ox tail) so remove the meat from the bones and set aside as a meaty topping before discarding.
  3. In a small frying pan, quickly toast the dried spices until fragrant (30 seconds to 1 minute). Shake them around to prevent burning. Wrap the toasted spices in a cheese cloth or use a spice ball and add to pot. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove cheese cloth/spice ball.
  4. Season stock with rock sugar, MSG, fish sauce, and salt to taste
  5. When ready to serve, bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch a large handful of rice noodles for a few seconds. Add cooked noodles to a serving bowl. Add your choices of meat with the raw slices of eye-round beef steak on top. Ladle in hot broth and over the raw beef slices. Top with a bit of white/yellow onions, green onions, and chopped cilantro. Serve bowl with a side of bean sprouts, Thai basil, jalapeno slices, lime wedges and of course, Hoisin and Sriracha sauce.

Vietnamese Green Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

Whenever I visit Vietnam, I’m always on the lookout for something light and refreshing to combat the hot and humid weather. In the evening during the Summer months, my local aunts and I would finally brave the outside and head to a park in Saigon where young people and love birds come to congregate and eat. There we would find a stump or a small plastic stool to sit on, as we wave down one of the bajillion street food vendors hawking their specialties. One of our favorite snacks is from the Goi Du Du lady, who serves Goi Du Du Bo Kho from the mini restaurant she built on the back of her bike.

 Vietnamese Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

Vietnamese Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

 Vietnamese Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

Vietnamese Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

Goi Du Du Bo Kho is a refreshing Vietnamese green papaya and beef jerky salad. It is topped with roasted peanuts, Thai Basil leaves and dressed in a sweet vinegary soy sauce. All the components in this salad create the perfect harmony of flavor and texture.

 Vietnamese Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

Vietnamese Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

The unripe thinly sliced green papaya provides a nice crunch and chew. Thai basil leaves and roasted peanuts provide great aroma, as well as crunch. And the addition of thinly shredded beef jerky provides the savory protein component that is just plain awesome and delicious. Everything is tossed together in small plastic bag and simply handed to you with pair of chop sticks. Eating Goi Du Du Bo Kho straight from a bag, all the while balancing on a flimsy plastic stool are all part of the night time fun in Vietnam.

 Vietnamese Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

Vietnamese Papaya & Beef Jerky Salad (Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

I got the beef jerky for this salad in San Jose, CA, where the epitome of all things Vietnamese in California exists. It’s a lot sweeter than the more traditional Western beef jerky. You don’t need this type of sweet beef jerky to make the dish but highly recommended for a more authentic Vietnamese flavor. Enjoy the recipe below. A-peace!

gỏi đu đủ bò khô

Vietnamese Green Papaya and Beef Jerky Salad
(Goi Du Du Bo Kho)

Serves 3

Ingredients

    Vinegar & Soy Salad Dressing

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced red chili (optional)

  • Salad

  • 1 medium unripe papaya (peel and cut into thin strips)
  • 1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 2 cups of thinly shredded beef jerky (Vietnamese/Asian sweet variety)
  • 1 cup roasted peants (coarsely chopped)

Instructions

  1. For the soy salad dressing, add all the ingredients together in a small bowl and mix until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. In a large bowl, add papaya and basil, then top with with beef jerky and peanuts. Add as much or little the soy salad dressing as you like. Give it a quick toss before serving.