Monday 5 March 2012


To us Asians, there is no greater comfort food than a steaming bowl of noodle soup. Noodle shops abound providing instant satisfaction to those craving their regular fix. It is habit forming, which is good because, not only is it delicious, it is very nutritious, too.  

The Vietnamese pho bo (beef noodle soup) is one of my absolute favourites. The broth is aromatic and rich from beef bones and spices. The variety of herbs to accompany it, I think, is its crowning glory. The sudden freshness of coriander, mint and basil contrasts yet punctuates the already delicious dish. The comfort comes from soft rice noodles and tender beef. Hands down, my favourite part is the soup. I can't find the right words to describe how delicious it is.

I have been meaning to cook pho bo for some time now but it is only today that I found the ingredient that makes it what it is. Beef bones! It is a rarity here in these parts because it is has been banned from the shops since the outbreak of mad cow disease. 

The pho broth is usually simmered for almost a day. I took the easier and quicker route by using a pressure cooker. This is my take on pho, cooked to my own taste and liking. Feel free to adjust it to your own taste. I also used the ingredients that are available to me such as Mediterranean basil and mint. Still, in all, it was a fantastic pho bo, pure and simple and completely home made.

Yield 4-6 servings

Ingredients for the broth:

1 kilo of beef shank with bones
3 1/2 liters of water
7-8 shallots
1-3" piece of unpeeled ginger
1 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
3 segments of star anise
1 tsp. black peppercorns
2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 tbsp. sugar


Cut the meat into 4" square pieces. You could use also just use beef shank meat if you can't find bones. Put them in the pressure cooker with 3 1/2 liters of cold water. Bring to the boil. Skim off the scum as it rises to the surface. 

While waiting for your stock to boil, grill the ginger and shallots by putting on a trivet that's directly on the burner. This will only take a few minutes. The skin will char, the inside will slightly soften. Take off any loose skin from the shallots. Cut each in half to expose the flesh. Cut the ginger into thick slices. 

When the stock has boiled and been skimmed of scum, add the grilled ginger and shallots and the rest of the ingredients. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and lower the heat when it whistles. Cook for 20 minutes. You can cook this in a regular pot until tender (2-3 hours).

Take out the meat but keep your bones (if using) on the boil until you are ready to use the stock.

Ingredients for the noodle soup:

800 gms. fresh ho fan noodles or 400 gms. thick dried rice noodles
150 gms. sirloin steak or rump steak, sliced very thinly
1/4 c. roughly chopped coriander leaves
1/4 c. torn basil leaves
1/4 c. roughly chopped mint leaves
1/4 c. chopped spring onions
1 c. bean sprouts, blanched
1 red chilli, sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
extra fish sauce


Blanch the fresh ho fan just to soften. All it needs is to be dropped in boiling water, stirred then quickly drained. 

If using dried noodles, cook until just al dente. Portion into bowls. 

Top with the sliced boiled beef and blanched bean sprouts. Divide the steak slices between the bowls. Ladle boiling stock over it. Serve the herbs, lime wedges, chillies and fish sauce on the side so each one can put the desired amount on their portion.

All rights reserved ©Adora's Box Copyright 2011. 

Please support Adora's Box by making your and (use the code STMMMS55174) purchases from this site. Click on their respective banners to proceed to their websites. It will not cost you a single cent more but will help sustain this blog. Thank you.

You might also like
Prawn wonton and Beef Noodle Soup

Chargrilled Pork on Rice Noodle Soup
Long Soup
Thanks for dropping by. It would be nice if we could meet up on FACEBOOK or TWITTER


  1. Such beautiful photographs! And the pho looks so delicious! I'm gonna try this out soon :)

    ps: following you now!

  2. ohh I love Pho Bo very much and I'm the big fans of Vietnamese culinary, I though make Pho Bo would need lots of spices, but it sounds pretty easy to make, yours looks delicious


  3. Lovely pictures!! Takes me back to fond memories of my trip to vietnam

  4. WOW your pho looks fantastic! Almost the same ingredients I use.

    You made me crave for a bowl of steaming hot pho! If you happen to be in Holland make sure you let me know. I will have a bowl (or 2) of pho ready for you.

  5. Lilly, I would never miss the chance to have real, authentic pho. I will take you up on that if I I ever go there. I will probably need two bowls.

  6. Hi Adora! It's too bad we don't really have a steady supply of rice noodles here, this looks like an easy dish to replicate! :D And the pictures are beautiful. :D

    1. I do hope you get to find rice noodles of some sort, Gio, any thickness will do. If not, so mein (thin flour noodles) works as well.

  7. Adora, your bowl of pho looks beautiful. I can just imagine how good it would be going down! I am bookmarking this so I can make it soon. I like your version, sounds like my taste. I can get all the ingredients too! That's a bonus! The photos are stunning!

    1. I hope you do get to try this, Lyndsey. I find it difficult to run around different shops just to look for ingredients so I just used substitutes that are readily available. The flavours are so similar so they worked really well.

  8. OH wow. this is simply amazing. Pho is my ULTIMATE comfort food after I discovered it in my early 20's. I just love the stuff. I will say I usually order pho ga, but consider the beef version to be a real treat. I can't wait to try your take on it.

  9. So bright and vibrant, it looks amazing!!

  10. I love this recipe, and there is no msg involved for the soup, great!

    1. I don't use msg in my cooking, Cindy. Our ingredients already have all the taste we to make our food taste good.

  11. Absolutely stunning pho! I want to lick the screen it looks so good. I think I need to make some great noodle soup :)


Did you like this post? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.