• Beef bones marrow and knuckle: 1-3 kg (2-6 lbs)
  • Beef: 500 g (adjust depending on your taste)

Spices & Sauces

  • Fish sauce
  • Salt
  • Sugar (preferably rock sugar, caster/brown sugar),
  • Stock powder

Pho Aroma

  • Onion unpeeled and halved: 100 g
  • Ginger, sliced: 2 knobs
  • Star-anise: 3
  • Cinnamon sticks: 2
  • Black cardamom: 2-3
  • Cloves (optional): 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds (optional): 1 tsp
  • Onion peeled: 1


  • Dried flat rice noodles: 1 kg (2.2 lb)

Decoration on the noodle

  • Spring onion chopped: 100 g
  • Onion, thinly sliced and soaked in ice water: 1


  • Fresh herbs: Asian basil, sawtooth herbs
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • Bean sprouts: 500 g
  • Hoisin sauce, Sriracha: optional


Purify the bone

This is a very important step to keep the broth clear and it will save your time skimming off the scum later.

  • Place the beef bones in a large pot.
  • Pour water to bone level.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat for 5-10 minutes. The impurities will rise to the top.
  • Then dump out the whole pot and rinse the bones well under running water. Wash the pot clean.

Broth making

  • Place the parboiled and rinsed bones back to a large stockpot and fill with water, about 5 litters.
  • Add 1 peeled onion, 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of sugar.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer under medium-low heat. Occasionally skim off the scum and the fat.
  • Do not cover the pot, otherwise, the broth may lose its clarity.


  • Grill the rest of the onion, ginger slices, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and black cardamoms directly on an open flame stove until slightly charred on both sides. You can also use the oven for this step.
  • Peel the grilled onion and scrape off the charred part.
  • Try to keep the stem and not let the onion layers fall apart. You can also rinse off the black char bits under warm running water.
  • Wrap the small spices in a large tea/spice bag or a piece of cheesecloth. Drop the bags into the stockpot.


  • Soak dried flat rice noodle “banh pho” in water for 30 minutes to soften.
  • Blanch a handful of noodles in a long-handle strainer for 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Drain and transfer the noodles to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.
  • Alternatively, you can cook the whole pack of noodles at one go following package instructions. Remove the noodles when they are soft but still a bit chewy (al dente). Then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Then rinse again with hot water to help the noodles dry out faster and prevent clumping. You can also use the same saucepan to blanch the beansprouts for about 30 seconds.


Cooking time

  • Depending on the cut of beef, it might take 1-2 hours to cook. When the meat is cooked, remove and soak in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to prevent the beef from drying up or turning dark. Then drain and slice thinly into bite-sized pieces.
  • Traditional PHO can be cooked overnight!
  • You can add more water if the broth reduces.

Make the broth clear

Remove the onions from the pot because you don’t want them to break and make the broth less clear.

Add more ingredients in the last hour to create more intense flavour

If you cook the stock for more than 3 hours, add the charred onion and ginger only during the last hour, so that the aroma stays fresh and tempting till serving. Season to your taste with salt, sugar, and stock powder.


  • To assemble the dish, place a handful of the cooked noodles to occupy one third of the bowl.
  • Place the sliced beef on top (cooked or fresh raw beef of your choice), garnish with the thinly sliced onion and chopped spring onion.
  • Then ladle the hot soup over to full fill the bowl. Serve with a platter of herbs and blanched bean sprouts.
  • To serve, squeeze a lime wedge and add hoisin or Sriracha sauce to your preference.


  • Beef bones are crucial for a hearty broth. The more bones you use, the tastier the broth becomes.
  • Adding fish sauce to the broth may lead to a sour after-taste, so preferably let diners decide whether they want to add fish sauce to their individual bowls when serving.


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