This aromatic beef soup-cum-stew is a Vietnamese staple. It is eaten at breakfast and lunch, but rarely later as the authentic pho sellers spend their afernoons preparing stock for the next day. Often it comes with additional fresh accompaniments, to which diners help themselves. Try to make the stock the day before as it is easier to remove the surface fat once it has cooled and solidified in the fridge.
FOR THE STOCK:
- 2 large beef marrowbones, or about 1.5kg ordinary beef bones
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 30g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 2 sticks celery, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 star anise
- 2 sticks lemon grass
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 650g beef brisket
FOR THE SOUP:
- 400g piece fillet of beef
- 350g dried rice noodles
- 4-6 tablespoons fish sauce
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds for a milder flavour)
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
- 400g bean sprouts
- Thai basil, lime wedges, finely chopped onion, bean sprouts and fresh, chopped chilli (optional)
- Place the marrowbones in a stock pot or very large saucepan. Add all the remaining stock ingredients except the brisket. Pour in 5 litres of water, cover and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for 2½ hours, skimming off any surface scum.
- Add the brisket and continue to simmer for a further 2½ hours, skimming every now and again. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Remove and discard the bones, then refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, remove any solidified fat from the surface. Lift out the brisket and cut into small thin strips. Cover and set aside. Strain the stock into a large clean saucepan.
- Wrap the beef fillet in cling film and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up, then cut the meat into very fine slices. Chill until you are ready to serve. Cook the rice noodles according to the packet instructions, usually soaking them in boiled water for 4-5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
- Heat the stock to simmering point. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the fish sauce, the spring onions, chopped chilli, lime juice, soy sauce and coriander. Taste and add more fish sauce if necessary. Stir in the strips of brisket.
- To serve, spoon the rice noodles into 6 large, deep soup bowls. Top with the bean sprouts and divide the slice draw fillet among the bowls. The heat of the stock will gently cook the raw fillet. Pour over the boiling stock and brisket and serve immediately with, if using, Thai basil, lime wedges, onion, bean sprouts and chilli on the side for each diner.
To drink:A red wine, low in tannin, that can be served cool, such as Beaujolais, Austrian Blaufränkisch Pinot Noir: Henry Fessy Broullly 2010, £10.99, . Wine details correct at original magazine publication date.
From the May 2012 issue of House & Garden. Recipe by Caroline Barty; photograph by William Lingwood; food preparation & styling by Bridget Sargeson; wine recommendation by Joanna Simon; table styling by Alexander Breeze.
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