Pronounced as “Fuh”… (Yup like……ha ha); we had bowls of this on our visit to Vietnam and loved it to bits. Takes a bit of time and patience to make it from scratch, but its worth the effort.
For the Broth :
2 onions, halved
4″ nub of ginger, halved lengthwise
5-6 lbs of good beef bones, preferably leg and knuckle
1 lb of tender beef meat
6 quarts of water
1 package of Pho Spices [1 cinnamon stick, 1 tbl coriander seeds, 1 tbl fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 1 cardamom pod, 6 whole cloves - in mesh bag]
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
In the Bowls :
2 lbs rice noodles (Boiled earlier)
cooked beef from the broth
Beef slices (sirloin sliced as thin as possible -you have to put it raw but I just cooked it a bit)
Big handful of each: mint, cilantro, basil
2 limes, cut into wedges
2-3 chili peppers, sliced
2 big handfuls of bean sprouts
Sriracha hot sauce
Char: Turn your broiler on high and move rack to the highest spot. Place ginger and onions on baking sheet. Brush just a bit of cooking oil on the cut side of each. Broil on high until ginger and onions begin to char. Keep aside.
Parboil the bones:
Fill large pot (12-qt capacity) with cool water. Boil water, and then add the bones, keeping the heat on high. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse the bones and rinse out the pot. Refill pot with bones and 6 qts of cool water. Bring to boil over high heat and lower to simmer. Using a ladle or a fine mesh strainer, remove any scum that rises to the top.
Add ginger, onion, spice packet, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the beef meat and set aside. Strain broth, taste broth and adjust seasoning – this is a crucial step. If the broth’s flavor doesn’t quite shine yet, add 2 teaspoons more of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a small nugget of rock sugar (or 1 teaspoon of regular sugar). Keep doing this until the broth tastes perfect.
Prepare noodles & meat:
Slice your sirloin as thin as possible – try freezing for 15 minutes prior to slicing to make it easier. Like I said earlier – I just cooked this for a bit. Cut or shred the meat (boiled in broth) and set aside. Arrange all other ingredients on a platter for the table. Your guests will “assemble” their own bowls. Follow the directions on your package of noodles – there are many different sizes and widths of rice noodles, so make sure you read the directions. For some fresh rice noodles, just a quick 5 second blanch in hot water is all that’s needed.
Bring your broth back to a boil. Line up your soup bowls next to the stove. Fill each bowl with rice noodles, shredded cooked beef and meat slices. As soon as the broth comes back to a boil, ladle into each bowl. the hot broth will cook the beef slices. Serve immediately. Guests can garnish their own bowls as they wish.