Hanoi-Style Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Bò Hà Nội)


“Phở” is super popular. Everyone eats it. Everyone talks about it. I am not going to bore you will all the details. If you want to know a little bit about the history of “phở” and how to pronounce it, head over here.  And now, grab your shopping list and start gathering your ingredients.

3 lbs beef bones (knuckles and marrow bones)
1 yellow onion, peeled
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
3 quarts water
1 star anise
2 whole cloves
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 whole nutmeg
1 tbs salt
4-5 pieces yellow rock sugar
3 tbs fish sauce

1 package of dried flat rice noodles, cooked and drained
1 lb beef flank, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, white parts slightly shredded, green parts finely chopped
1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
1 Thai red chiles, thinly sliced (optional)
1 limes, cut into wedges (optional)
Egg yolks to make poached eggs (optional)
Siracha or chilli sauce (optional)
Black pepper


1. To have a clear broth, you must parboil and rinse the beef bones. Put them in a stockpot and add cold water just enough to cover the bones. Bring to boil over high heat and boil for a few minutes to release the impurities. Discard the water and rinse the bones. Return the bones to the pot.

2. Pour about 3 quarts water in the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered to make sure the broth is clear. Use a fine-mesh sieve to skim off any scum or fat that rises to the top.

3. Meanwhile, stick the cloves in the onion. Place the onion, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon directly on the stove with a medium flame. Let them slightly burnt. Use tongs or chopsticks to rotate them frequently. Rinse them under running water and rub off the charred skin.

4. Add the carrots, onion, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon to the stockpot.

5. Add rock sugar, fish sauce, salt, and cook uncovered for 3-4 hours. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer.

6. Finally add more fish sauce and salt to taste.

Before serving

1. Turn the heat up and bring the broth to rolling boil. Do a final tasting.

2. Divide the cooked noodles into 4 large bowls. Top each bowl of noodles with raw beef, arranging the slices flat.

3. Plunge the white scallion sections briefly into the boiling broth and divide them among the bowl.

4. If using egg yolks, poach some and place one into each bowl.

5. Ladle about 2 cups broth into each bowl, distributing the hot liquid evenly to warm all the ingredients.

6. Generously sprinkle chopped green scallions and cilantro and black pepper.

7. Serve with lemon wedge, and sliced chiles.

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