Phở (pronounced fuh), is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup made from an intense vitamin-rich bone stock topped with the freshest Thai herbs and vegetables. It's perfect served up on a balmy summer's eve or even as a warming curer for winter sniffles. Phở is also a great way to make a small amount of high quality steak go a long way, as it is served super thinly sliced but cooks at the table in the warm broth, leaving a beautifully tender and slightly pink meat. All of the fresh accompaniments are served at the table, for guests to top their own soup before slurping away.
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Here's how you do it
Firstly blanch the bones to remove any impurities. Place the beef bones in a large saucepan or stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then keep on a rolling boil for 10 minutes as the scum rises to the top. Remove the scum from the top then pour away all the boiling water, through a colander to retain the bones. Rinse the bones in more cold water then pat each bone dry with kitchen paper.
Now clean your saucepan then return to the heat with 4 litres cold water, the cleaned beef bones, star anise, cinnamon stick and peppercorns. Half the onion and roughly chop the ginger then add to the pan.
Bring the stock up to the boil then gently simmer for at least 5 hours or up to 8 hours. As the water reduces, keep topping up so that the bones are covered with water at all times.
When you're nearly ready to serve, prep all of your accompaniments: pull off and discard the tougher stalks from the mint and discard, keeping the leaves whole. Finely slice the spring onions and chillies.
Bash the fillet steak so that it is the same thickness throughout then thinly slice (this is best done fresh from the fridge as the steak will keep together better when cool). Arrange the accompaniments on a platter on the dinner table, for everyone to serve themselves.
Soak the noodles in freshly boiled water for 10 minutes. While the noodles soften, drain your bone broth into another saucepan through a sieve and discard the bones (they have done their job!). Bring the beef broth to the boil then turn off the heat. Stir in the sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and the juice from 1/2 lime (cutting the other half into wedges for garnish).
Serve immediately whilst the broth is still hot: drain the noodles and divide between 3-4 deep serving bowls. Next divide the strips of steak between each bowl then pour over the hot broth. Top each bowl with the herbs, beansprouts, spring onions and chilli then finish with a final squeeze of lime.
Chef's Tip: it's important to blanch the bones before you make your broth. This technique removes any unnecessary fat and impurities from the bones, leaving a clearer, less fatty stock.