Black cardamom gives this classic Southeast Asian dish a floral back note. For more about cooking with cardamom, go to Queen of Spices.
For the Soup
- 4 shallots
- 1 (2") piece ginger, unpeeled
- 1 lb. bone-in beef short ribs
- 8 cups beef broth
- 3 pods black cardamom, lightly crushed
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 (2") stick cinnamon
- 1⁄4 cup fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1⁄2 lb. beef eye of round
- 8 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
For the Garnish
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1⁄4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1⁄4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
- 4 Thai chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
- 4 lime wedges
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat oven to broil and arrange a rack 4" from broiler element. Put shallots and ginger on a piece of aluminum foil and broil, turning occasionally, until charred and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly. Peel shallots and ginger and transfer them to a 6-qt. pot, along with the short ribs, broth, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, skimming any foam from the surface, until the broth has reduced to 6 cups, about 1 hour. Transfer short ribs to a cutting board, remove meat from bone, and thinly slice it. Transfer meat back to pot, discarding bone. Stir in fish sauce and sugar and keep broth hot.
Meanwhile, put beef eye of round in the freezer for 20 minutes. Transfer beef eye of round to a cutting board and thinly slice it crosswise. Using tongs, dip the beef slices into the hot broth to gently cook the meat, about 30 seconds. Transfer cooked slices of eye of round to a plate. Put dried noodles into a bowl and cover with hot water; let sit to soften for 15 minutes. Drain noodles and transfer to 4 bowls.
To serve, ladle hot broth and short rib meat over noodles and top with the reserved eye of round slices. Garnish with bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, scallions, chiles, lime wedges, and pepper.