Vietnamese noodle soup, known as phở (pronounced fuh, with a rising intonation), is a study in texture contrasts.
Yield: serves 6-8
- 6 lb. oxtails or meaty beef bones
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
- 4 turnips, quartered
- 4 whole star anise
- 8 cloves
- 1 (3") piece fresh ginger, crushed
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
- Vietnamese fish sauce (nýớc mắm)
- 1 lb. dried flat rice noodles
- Vegetable oil
- 5 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 7 fresh hot red chiles (Thai or serrano), thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 cup fresh holy or sweet basil leaves
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> lb. top sirloin, thinly sliced
- Hoisin sauce
- For 6–8 cups broth, combine oxtails, onions, turnips, star anise, cloves, ginger, cinnamon stick, lime leaves, and 4 quarts water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium, skim foam, and stir in 1 tbsp. fish sauce. Simmer, adding water as needed to cover bones, for 5 hours. Strain and set aside. (Broth improves if refrigerated overnight; skim before heating.)
- Soak noodles in a bowl of hot water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, heat 1'' oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and fry until golden, 4–7 minutes; drain on paper towels.
- Bring broth to a simmer over medium heat. Arrange shallots, bean sprouts, scallions, chiles, cilantro, basil, and lime wedges on a platter. Divide noodles and sirloin between soup bowls, cover with hot broth, then add vegetables and herbs as desired and season to taste with lime, fish sauce, and hoisin sauce.
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