Some dishes just make you feel happy. This is definitely one of them. Ever since my daughter and I ate at Slurp Shop in NY (Pre-COVID), I’ve been dying to make a great Pho. I’ve made a few, but this is by far the best. It does take some time, however, (4 hours to simmer, 10 is better), so tonight’s dinner is likely out of the question. Remember that “Pho” rhymes with “duh,” not “foe.”
You’ll need a 10-12 quart stock pot. This makes a LOT of soup. Freeze for later (without the accompaniments).
4-5 lbs of oxtails (The New Castle Farmers Market carries them)
2 gallons (8 quarts) of filtered water
4 inch piece of ginger
1 large onion
8 whole star anise or 1 tsp anise seeds
7 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cardamom pods
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
3 cassia leaves or 5 bay leaves
Rice noodles (Bánh Phở)
Accompaniments - mix & match
Fresh scallions or green onion
Place the oxtails in a strainer, and rinse under cold water.
Place the oxtails in a 6 quart pot, fill with cold water, and bring to a boil.
While the water warms up to a boil, cut your onion in half and throw away the onion paper. Place the onion face down, along with the ginger in a baking pan. Then place the ban 3 inches away from the top of the onion (or on the highest rack), and broil for 15 minutes. I did it in my Instant Pot, which is easy if you have one.
When the water starts to boil, a thick scum will float to the top. Skim this off and throw it away.
Pour the oxtails back into the strainer, and rinse again. Then place into the large stock pot, and fill the stock pot with clean filtered water.
Remove the charred outer layer from the onion, and cut the ginger into a few pieces. Add the onion and ginger to the pot.
Toast your spices. Place the whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, fennel seeds, star anise or anise seeds, and coriander seeds in a dry skillet, and toast until aromatic.
Place the toasted spices, along with the whole peppercorns and cassia/bay leaves into a mesh sachet or tea bag. Make sure it’s tied securely. If you don’t have a tag bag, then use a bit of cloth and tie tightly with kitchen twine. Then, place the bag of spices in the pot.
Bring the pot to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a low simmer, and simmer for 4-10 hours.
After 4-10 hours, your broth is done.
Bring a 6 quart pot of water to a rolling boil.
Add the rice noodles to the boiling water, and remove from heat. Allow to soak according to the directions on the package.
Slice your lime wedges, chop your cilantro, slice your jalapeños, plate your bean sprouts, get out your sriracha, etc. I love fish sauce, but there is a funk to it that is an acquired taste. So try a few drops at a time.
Portion out the rice noodles into bowls. Pour the boiling broth over it, and then add your garnishes. Enjoy!