As Pho Vietnam has become more popular in America and around the world, many people are wondering, ‘how do I make Pho Vietnam at home?’ If you want to learn how to make Pho Vietnam for yourself and your family or friends, there is a simple recipe provided below.
Pho Vietnam History
In general, Pho Vietnam originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam, near the capital Hanoi. Pho Vietnam was first served by Pho Hoa, a restaurant that opened in 1908 and still operates today. The national dish of Vietnam is pho, though Pho Bo is more popular than Pho Ga (chicken pho) or Pho Tau Hu (tofu pho).
It’s unclear when Pho first appeared in Vietnam, but it was likely developed sometime during the French colonial period from 1887 to 1954. It has since become a popular ingredient in modern Vietnamese cuisine all over the world.
Types of Pho Vietnam There are many types of Pho such as chicken, shrimp, beef, and so on. Pho is a very popular Vietnamese dish (although not the only one). What kind of meat is in Pho Vietnam? Depending on what part of Vietnam you’re eating at, there will be different types of meat available.
The most common type I’ve seen sold at restaurants in the US is sliced beef (thinly-sliced if you’re lucky) which is commonly eaten with a side of bean sprouts and basil.
Types of Pho Vietnam
There are various types of Pho Vietnam, depending on how you prepare it and what ingredients you put into it. All types should have a broth base with some type of meat inside, fresh rice noodles, spices, herbs such as cilantro or basil, and usually garnished with green onions.
The two most common forms of Pho Vietnam are Pho Bo (beef pho) and Pho Ga (chicken pho). Pho Bo is made with beef broth, and Pho Ga is made with chicken stock. Some Pho Vietnam restaurants also serve Pho Chay (chickpea pho) as a meatless alternative for vegetarians or vegans.
What kind of meat is in Pho Vietnam?
In Pho Bo, the most common meats used are either steak tips or oxtail, but the beef tendon and tripe (beef stomach) may also be used. In Pho Ga, the typical chicken meat includes breast, thighs, and leg quarters.
If you want to make Pho Bo at home, you can purchase steak tips from your local grocery store or butcher shop that will work well. For Pho Ga, you can use any type of chicken meat, as Pho Ga is not typically served with beef.
Beef Pho Vietnam – Pho Bo (beef pho) is flavored with spices such as star anise, cloves, and cinnamon to give it a unique taste. The broth can be made from oxtail, chuck blade, and/or round steak, which are boiled for several hours to extract the marrow flavor and nutrients from the bones. Pho Bo also has a tendon in it that has been simmered in the broth overnight so that its texture becomes soft like gelatin.
Pho Bo beef can be garnished with green onions on top of rice noodles inside your bowl, while Pho Bo Tai (ph bo sirloin) will only have raw beef on top of the noodles. Pho Bo Chin (ph bo brisket), Pho Bo Suon (pho bo sirloin), and Pho Bo Gau (pho bo fat brisket), Pho Bo Nam, Pho Bo Tai, Pho Bo Sach, or Pho Rau Can all be used as meat options.
Chicken Pho Vietnam – In general, Pho Ga (chicken pho)
The chicken is prepared the same way as Pho Bo, but it does not contain any oxtail or tripe. Chicken stock is often flavored like Pho Ngu Vi and contains spices such as star anise, cloves, and cinnamon.
You can choose Pho Ga with chicken breast, Pho Ga Gio Thit Nuong (chicken with grilled pork), Pho Ga Banh Mi (Pho Bo meets Pho Ga as it contains yellow onions and carrots inside the broth), Pho Ga Quay (roasted chicken pho), Pho Ga Khoai Tom & Phc Hien (pho ga white meat & shrimp).
Variations on a classic recipe (optional)
There are also varieties of Pho Vietnam that you can make at home. If you really want to get creative, try some of these other recipes: Pho Rau Cai – A vegetarian version made from wood ear mushrooms, tofu, or seitan noodles which is soy-based shredded wheat protein. You can also add Pho Vietnam you make.
– Pho Bo (Beef Pho) – water, oxtail or other beef cuts, onion, ginger, garlic, cardamom pods, cloves, whole aniseed, rock sugar (or brown sugar), star anise.
– Pho Ga (chicken pho) – chicken feet & bones for a classic flavor, or just use a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. You can also combine both Ph Bo & G to get the best out of two worlds. Check out one of my favorite recipes below from Vietnamese Pho.
How to make Pho Vietnam: Recipe
When you’re ready to make Pho Vietnam put all your ingredients into a large stockpot and place it on the stove over high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so that you have a steady simmer for at least two hours. You can simmer Pho Vietnam for up to 8 hours if desired, but 2-4 hours is usually enough if making Pho Vietnam.
As soon as you are done cooking your broth, remove all the solids, including bones, because they will begin to disintegrate if cooked too long, and this will cause your broth to become cloudy, which is not appealing when eating Pho Vietnam. Strain out all the liquid using a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids.
Once Pho Vietnam is ready, divide up your rice noodles and other toppings into individual bowls and then pour Pho Vietnam over everything.
– 1 package (15 ounces) beef sirloin steak tips, frozen, partially thawed, or fresh
– 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
– 2 tablespoons fish sauce
– 2 tablespoons soy sauce
– 6 cups hot water
– Beef Pho Vietnam – water, oxtail or other beef cuts, onion, ginger, garlic, cardamom pods, cloves, whole aniseed (or anise seed), rock sugar (or brown sugar), star anise.
Pho Vietnam Put all ingredients in a 6-quart pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 4 hours, adding water if necessary. Strain out solids through a colander lined with cheesecloth or muslin, removing any scum or fat that rises to the surface.
Note: Pho Vietnam can be made ahead of time and then reheated when ready to serve. Pho Vietnam will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Pho Vietnam – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
There is no better accompaniment to richly satisfying ph than tangy fresh herbs, crunchy bean sprouts, fiery chili peppers, and zesty lime wedges. This Pho Vietnam recipe is made with a flavorful beef broth, rice noodles, and thinly sliced sirloin steak.
Pho Vietnam – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup Ingredients
Pho Vietnam Broth: 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 3 pounds oxtails (beef), trimmed 2 large onions, unpeeled 8 quarts water, 5 whole star anise, 7 whole cloves, 8 black peppercorns, 4 whole cardamom pods, 1 pound yellow rock sugar (about 6 ounces) or 2/3 cup regular granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons salt.
Pho Vietnam Toppings: 8 ounces dried flat rice stick noodles (banh pho) 14 ounces flank steak, partially frozen for easy slicing into thin strips 3 cups peanuts 4 limes, cut into wedges.
Pho Vietnam Garnish: 3 cups bean sprouts 2 cups fresh basil leaves (Thai basil is preferred) 2 cups fresh mint leaves 2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal Pho Vietnam.
Directions Pho Vietnam Broth:
- Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Add oxtails and cook without stirring for 4 to 5 minutes, or until well browned on the first side. The fond, or browned bits of beef stuck to the bottom of the pan, should be light golden brown. Using tongs, turn oxtails over and continue cooking without stirring for another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Add onions to the pot, flat side down, and cook without stirring for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the 8 quarts of water, bring to a boil over high heat and let boil for 2 minutes. Return oxtails and any juices that have accumulated on the plate to the pot and bring back up to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, so Pho Vietnam is just barely bubbling and simmer very gently (barely bubbling … between 180°F and 200°F). Pho Vietnam for 3 hours uncovered. Skim foam from the surface as needed or desired during cooking time. After 3 hours, remove Pho Vietnam from heat but do not strain yet; allow Pho Vietnam to cool for a few hours. If Pho Vietnam is too thick, add some water or beef broth.
- Skim any fat from the surface of Pho Vietnam. Strain stock through a fine-mesh strainer into another pot and discard solids. Cool slightly before refrigerating; Pho Vietnam will continue to thicken when cold (Pho Vietnam can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for several months).
- To serve, bring the ph back to simmer over medium heat and adjust seasonings with salt, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, or hoisin sauce as desired; keep warm until ready to serve. Set out toppings buffet-style Pho Vietnam each individual bowl before ladling in Pho Vietnam.
Pho Vietnam – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup Toppings
For the Toppings:
- Cover the eggs in a medium saucepan with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat; once boiling, remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Drain and run under cool water, peel, then quarter lengthwise and transfer to a serving platter. Set aside until ready to serve with Pho.
- Reheat broth if necessary, then bring to simmer over medium-high heat (adjust as needed throughout cooking). Adjust seasonings with salt, fish sauce, sauce for taste). Add beef and return to a simmer, Pho Vietnam 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place rice noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes; drain and transfer to a serving platter.
- Warm serving bowls by running Pho Vietnam under hot water; shake dry and arrange on table or counter throughout mealtime service.
- Divide noodles among warmed bowls, topping each portion of noodles with 3 tablespoons beef cooking juices. Arrange some pieces of beef on top (and drizzle with some cooking juices), then garnish one side of broth with bean sprouts, basil leaves, green onions, white Pho Vietnam, and lime wedges.
- Pho Vietnam to table for guests so they can add desired garnishes to their individual bowls, then serve immediately, instructing guests to squeeze juice from lime wedges into ph first before adding bean sprouts and herbs as desired. Pho Vietnam is usually served with Hoisin sauce and sweet chili pepper sauce.
Tips and tricks for making the best bowl of Pho Vietnam are super easy to make, and the key is to have all your ingredients prepped and ready.
You’re going to want everything set out buffet-style so you can quickly assemble each bowl of Pho as it’s ordered. This recipe makes a big pot of soup (approximately 12 servings). Ideally, you’d cook this in two separate pots to speed up the process, but if you don’t have that option, just prepare yourself for a long wait: It takes 8 hours total (and about 4 hours simmering) but almost all of that time is hands-off.
The most important part of making ph is getting the right Pho Vietnam and beef bones. The recipe calls for a mix of oxtail, bone-in short ribs, and knucklebones, which will give the broth richness, flavor, body, and color. You can generally find these types of Pho Vietnam at your local Asian market (and most places in Chinatown), but if not, you can order them on Amazon.
The broth is finished with some fish sauce (nuoc mam) and soy sauce to balance out the flavors; make sure to add both to the taste so that it’s not too overpowering or salty. I like using low sodium soy sauce because there’s already plenty of fish sauce, but use whatever kind you have. Pho Vietnam can also be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock and vegan by omitting the fish sauce and subbing in a bit of soy sauce.
The rice noodles are really important too- If you can’t find these wide, flat ones, then get the thinnest noodles available (in a different shape) because it’s better to use thicker noodles than thin vermicelli or rice sticks since those will cook far too quickly. The traditional way to eat ph is with a spoon, but if you want your guests to mix their own bowls of ph, don’t forget to set out chopsticks for them. This isn’t essential, but I’ve found that most Pho Vietnam eaters like to be able to pick up the Pho Vietnam so they can maneuver it in their spoon.
Pho Vietnam can be served with a variety of garnishes, and it’s nice to have them all out so people can choose exactly what they like. Bean sprouts, lime wedges, Thai basil leaves, thin slices of chili pepper (jalapeno or Serrano), Sriracha sauce, and Hoisin sauce are all common additions but don’t let that limit your imagination- sliced fresh ginger, cilantro leaves, even mint leaves are other popular choices.
Variations on a classic recipe (optional)
Pho is typically made with beef, but this recipe can also be made successfully with pork or chicken. If you want to add another meat then use the same amount of meat as you would for beef.
To make it vegetarian/vegan, omit the fish sauce and replace vegetable stock. Also, feel free to sub in any veggies that you enjoy at your local grocery store for some of those offered above- They shouldn’t have much effect on overall taste but feel free to experiment!
5lb beef bone-in Pho Vietnam (4-5 pounds total), 2 tablespoons coriander seeds Pho Chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 medium per pound of ribs), 5-inch or so length of ginger peeled and roughly sliced, 3 cloves garlic whole, vegetable oil for frying (enough to submerge the onions and ginger), 2 carrots peeled and cut into chunks about 1 inch thick, 4 tbsp fish sauce (3 if using low sodium)
How to make:
10 lb. beef bones (preferably oxtail) cut in half to fit your stockpot better
4 lbs. beef chuck roast Pho Vietnam 6 tbsp salt
1 lb. dried flat rice noodles (if unavailable, use very thin vermicelli or the thinnest cooked rice noodle you can find)
4 oz. Yellow rock sugar (or 1/2 cup light brown sugar), 1 tsp optional fish sauce, and 2 tbsp sodium-reduced soy sauce.
If using a slow cooker, place all ingredients into an empty pot. Fill with water until it covers everything by about 2 inches. Set heat to high and cook for 8 hours. Suppose you want more broth, set to low and cook for 10 hours.
If making on the stovetop, put beef bones in a large stockpot and cover with water Pho Vietnam 8 cups. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low heat. Cook for 3 hours, periodically removing any scum that rises to the surface. After three hours, add beef chuck roast and cook for 2 more hours. Turn off heat and cool broth.
Transfer bones and remaining ingredients from stockpot into an airtight container; fill with water until everything is covered by at least one inch of liquid (this ensures you won’t lose anything). Refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days before continuing with the recipe.
After beef has cooled down significantly, remove the fat cap if necessary ( It’s better to wait until it is completely solid and easier to handle)—transfer bones to a plate and strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth-lined colander. Discard solids.
If making on the stovetop, pour strained broth back into the pot. Add yellow rock sugar, fish sauce, and sodium-reduced soy sauce; bring to a boil over high heat (add sugar after bringing to temperature, so it does not dissolve too much).
Reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve, skimming as necessary to remove any scum that rises to the top. DO NOT let this boil at any point because you don’t want emulsified fat in your final product!
If using brown sugar, add it now. At this point, you can also preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove beef from bone and place in a large bowl. Discard bones and big chunks of fat but do try to remove any small bits of fat or marrow (they will make the broth cloudy).
Once the broth is on its way, prepare noodles according to package directions. They should be very al dente, meaning with no additional cooking, they should not be toothsome at all; overcooked noodles are rubbery, so err on the side of slightly undercooked if you’re not sure.
Heat oven to 200 degrees F Pho Vietnam Ph Divide cooked noodles among 6-8 bowls. Top each serving with 1/2 lbs raw sirloin steak that has been sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices. Pour about 2 cups of hot broth into each bowl. Suppose using a slow cooker Pho Vietnam Ph Garnish, with green onions, basil leaves, and cilantro. Serve immediately with fresh bean sprouts Pho Vietnam, sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce, and limes on the side.
In Vietnamese restaurants, you’ll also find Thai basil ( more commonly known as sweet basil), cilantro (the herb most often referenced in pho recipes), or even mint leaves, but those are not traditional ingredients for this dish, so you can leave them out if you want to stick to tradition.
The meat used in this recipe is sirloin steak because that’s what I like best, and it tends to have the right texture and flavor. You can substitute any other cut of beef you’d like, though; just make sure to always choose a well-marbled one for best results.
As I said earlier, if you don’t want to deal with bones or fat, then use 3 lbs raw sirloin steak in place of the chuck roast and beef bones (the same effect will be achieved even if using those cuts, but you won’t get that extra depth from the marrow/gelatin). If you do this, however, make sure to cook your broth for only 1 hour on high heat after bringing it to a simmer.
You can also go without browning any ingredients and just add all of them into the pot for a more “homestyle” approach to making your broth.
Either way, you’ll end up with the same great taste as long as you remember that this is not a recipe for traditional Pho (there’s already plenty of those online).
How healthy is Vietnamese Pho?
Let’s be clear: this is not the healthiest dish. Vietnamese Pho, In fact, contains tons of saturated fat and sodium, so if you eat it often, all that extra grease will add up and make your heart work overtime.
However, it’s also full of vitamins ( especially iron, manganese, and vitamin A ) as well as antioxidants that are great for fighting inflammation. It contains a good amount of fiber (3 g or more per serving), so it can help lower cholesterol levels over time and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to some studies.
Some people recommend using low-sodium broth, but personally, I don’t think that reduces the flavor enough to make the soup any healthier than regular old saltwater; plus, there’s a lot of sodium in the ingredients already, so it’s not like it needs more.
When serving Vietnamese food, it’s also customary to provide each diner with their own side plate consisting of bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime wedges, and chopped chilies. This way, everyone can season their dish to their liking, which makes for happier diners and better-tasting meals.
As you may have guessed from all this talk about how healthy a particular food is, I’m not a nutritionist (or a doctor) so take my advice as just that: advice from some guy who likes his Vietnamese Pho delicious but doesn’t want to clog his arteries in the process.
If you’re still feeling guilty about slurping down creamy broth or eating a mountain of noodles, at least whip up a batch of these healthy Vietnamese spring rolls and finish them off with fresh lettuce leaves.
How to make a vegan version of Pho Vietnam
The good news is you can still eat Pho without ingesting too many calories, but the ingredients are a little harder to come by.
For example, all of the fresh herbs normally used in this dish (basil and cilantro) do not exist in their vegan form, as far as I know, so you’ll have to settle on using only cilantro or just leave it out altogether. Also, look for vegan beef that’s gluten-free if possible because regular soy sauce often contains trace amounts of wheat.
As long as you keep these things in mind when shopping for your ingredients, then your vegan version will turn out just fine. A word of advice, though: tofu does not taste like meat, so don’t try adding it unless you want to fool yourself into thinking you’re eating the real thing (good luck with that).
Vietnamese dishes you can find in restaurants and grocery stores
If you’re interested in trying other Vietnamese food besides Pho, then you’ll be happy to know that my country’s cuisine has become popular worldwide and is now available outside of Southeast Asia.
In fact, many American cities have at least one “Vietnamese strip mall” where local residents can find all kinds of authentic dishes like my childhood favorite: bánh mì (banh mi). Other than this type of sandwich (which is normally filled with meat), there are also plenty of spring rolls, rice paper wraps, and desserts that are vegan-friendly.
The best places to get Pho in the city
Although I’m not sure if anyone actually wants to visit a generic mall for dinner, there are some restaurants in the US that serve Vietnamese food, which is comparable to what you would find in Asia. Here are a few examples:
Pho 87, New York City: pretty much any location on this list will do, but I chose this one because it’s close to where I used to live. The Pho here is good enough for me, and at $8 per bowl, you can’t go wrong. Phong Dinh, Los Angeles, CA: if you happen to be near the west coast (or plan to visit), then try eating here sometimes.
Even though they’re not as cheap as other places on this list, their food tastes just like how we make it back home, so it’s worth every penny. Pho Pasteur, Boston, MA: this place offers four locations for your convenience, but all of them are worth a visit if you have the time. I recommend their pho ga (chicken) because most Westerners don’t know how to make it properly, so they usually screw it up.
As you can see, there are plenty of pho Vietnam recipes to choose from when making this dish, so you’re guaranteed to find some that suit your tastes. If none of these appeals to you, then there are a few ways for tweaking the recipe, which I recommend looking into before starting on your own.
If possible, get your hands on as many fresh ingredients as possible but if those aren’t available, then just use what’s in season and what’s locally available because this is how we tend to cook back home anyway.
After following all the instructions included here, I hope that everyone will be able to make their own bowl of Pho Vietnam without too much trouble or worry because it should turn out delicious in the end regardless of whether you follow this guide exactly as it is or improvises a little.
Thank you for reading, and I hope this article was helpful in making your Pho Vietnam come out perfect!