Pho Bo 2.0 (Beef Noodle Soup)

Updated: May 11


The reasoning to this recipe being named pho 2.0 is as its one of those dishes that is forever being tweaked and improved therefore it is well worth a rewrite. I have probably made pho over 50 times since the last post and this is my current up to date go to. The soul of this broth is all in the marrowbones and boiling beef to make an ultimate clear broth. The beef in this recipe is slowly boiled in the broth, however, feel free to add thinly sliced fillet or rib eye at the end if that's how you prefer your pho. I have genuinely spent a lot of time both learning and making pho so I'm excited to share where I am at thus far! With all that said this bowl is now up there with the pho I have had in Hanoi! The secret to a good bowl of pho is simply time and technique! Let's get straight into it!

Cook Time: 6-8 hours / Prep Time 45-60 minutes

To serve 5-6



1kg beef marrowbone

800g boiling beef on the bone

120g ginger

5 shallots

1 white onion

2 cinnamon sticks

5 star anise

3 tbsp rock sugar

1 tbsp fennel seed

1 tbsp coriander seed

1 tsp black peppercorns

5 cardamon pods

1/4 shaved nutmeg

4 cloves

salt to season

fish sauce to season

instant chicken bouillon to season (optional)

Rice Noodles and Toppings:

400g pho rice noodles

1 bunch coriander

1 bunch Thai basil or basil

6 spring onions

200g beansprouts

1/2 white onion

2 red chillies

3 limes


Beef Bones and Boiling Beef:

  1. To make a great bowl of pho the secret is to key in on a few details during the prep phase of the broth. Begin with the bones and boiling beef, add to a large pot and fill with water. Place onto a high heat and bring up to a boil. When ready boil the bones and boiling beef for 10-15 minutes so that all of the impurities rise to the top. The pot I used in this recipe holds 8 litres.

2. Now to clean the bones, this process will help keep our broth nice and clear at the very end. Drain off the bones and boiling beef and rinse under cold running water. Clean until the bones are fairly clean and are clear of any impurities. When ready place into a fresh large pot and fill with water (8 litre pot). Place the bones back onto the heat and bring up to a simmer.


3. Now to give the broth that classic essential pho flavour! Again this is a process that is slightly labour intensive but one that should be done with love. Start by charing 5 shallots and 120g of ginger either over a low naked flame or in a dry pan. Char until blackened then place to one side to cool. Now briefly char 2 cinnamon sticks and 5 star anise until they start to smoke then when ready place to one side. When the shallots and ginger are cool scrape off any charred parts of the ginger and peel the shallots then set to one side.

4. Next for the remaining spices, in a dry pan add 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/4 nutmeg shaved, 5 cardamon pods and 4 cloves. Dry fry until toasted and fragrant then place these toasted spices into a small tea strainer and close. If you do not have one of these then you can empty a teabag then reseal the spices tightly.

5. Now that all of our spices are ready we now want to add these to the bones and boiling beef. Add the ginger, shallots, star anise, cinnamon and the tea strainer of spices. Then peel and add 1 whole onion and 3 tbsps of rock sugar then keep the broth at a gentle simmer and cook without a lid for 2 1/2 hours. Whilst simmering occasionally remove any impurities that may rise to the top of the broth and top up with additional water if needed.

6. After 2 1/2 hours of the broth slowly simmering we now want to remove the boiling beef from the broth to prevent from overcooking. Place the cooked boiling beef into ice cold water to quickly chill as this will prevent the meat from darkening. Place into the fridge to completely chill then when ready remove the meat from the bone and slice as thin as you possibly can. Most pho places in Vietnam you will immediately see large various types of slow boiling meat hanging up next to the broth ready to be sliced. Now continue to simmer the broth and top up with water again for an additional 4-5 hours.

Rice Noodles and Toppings:

7. Whilst the broth is cooking we can begin to prepare the rice noodles and herbs to finish the dish. Start with the rice noodles, add to a pan of boiling water with a small drizzle of cooking oil to prevent the rice noodles from sticking. For the rice noodles I used, I cooked them for 1-2 minutes, however, go with the time the packet suggests. You want the rice noodles to be slightly under cooked as the hot broth will add additional cooking time. When ready drain from the water then chill under cold running water. When ready place into a colander to drain any excess water.