Vietnamese beef pho

Vietnamese pho

Vietnamese pho with beef brisket, tripe, and pork meatballs

In  cosmopolitan Sydney today, Vietnamese pho (pronounced “fur”) has slowly albeit surely been jostling up the comfort food ladder to contend with the likes of Italian pizza and pasta, Chinese yum cha, Japanese sushi rolls, Lebanses kebabs and pad Thai just to name a few.

Raw beansprouts, lemon wedge and fresh coriander

Fresh beansprouts, lemon wedge and fresh coriander

What’s not to like about a piping hot bowl of silky smooth rice noodles, tender slices of raw beef with fresh beansprouts, thinly sliced onions and herbs to warm the heart and sooth hunger pangs?

We are big fans of pho and have our favourite Vietnamese restaurants to satisfy our craving as and when it arises. And as much as we love frequenting these tried and tested restaurants where the food is tasty and relatively cheap, we love cooking our version of Vietnamese pho at home too.

Ingredients for Vietnamese pho

Main ingredients for Vietnamese pho

The quality standard of a simple bowl of pho is almost entirely predicated on the way the stock is prepared. The resultant broth that is ladled into each bowl of noodles requires a good depth of flavour, good herb and spice complexity and aroma as well as the right savoury balance of taste.

This is easier said than done as the spectrum of flavour and taste is very wide even among the most popular restaurants that serve pho in the major capital cities in Australia.

As a result, what constitute a great bowl of pho noodles can be as subjective as your mate boasting that his wife is a beautiful woman. Indeed, I suspect every pho enthusiast will have his or her preferred restaurant to fix a pho craving. After all, one man’s meat is yet another man’s poison and in similar vein, your mate will also have his own opinion whether your wife is indeed as beautiful as you so claim.

Fresh coriander

Fresh coriander bunch with roots

So here is my version of Vietnamese pho, with a Thai-inspired dipping sauce that showcases some of the great flavours of the Indochinese peninsula.


Fish sauce

It is important to use a good quality fish sauce for this recipe because it determines the flavour and taste of the broth.

There are literally a few dozen brands of fish sauce in the market today.

Fish sauce is a by-product from the fermentation of fish in salt and other curing ingredients.  The harvest or final yielding process for fish sauce is similar to the extraction of olive oil in its manufacturing process. The first press that yields the first batch of olive oil is generally referred to as extra virgin olive oil, where the product is at its purest form.

Similarly, the first batch of fish sauce that comes out of the fermenting drum can be loosely drawn in parallel equivalent to a good first press olive oil.

Viet Huong Three Crabs brand fish sauce

Viet Huong Three Crabs brand fish sauce

My choice of fish oil for cooking and for making side dipping sauces is the Viet Huong Three Crabs brand. It costs approximately A$7.50 – $8.50 for a 682ml bottle which is slightly more expensive than other brands.

However, it has a gentle balance of salty pungent aroma that is not overpowering and its savoury taste is also a lot more elegant and refined than other brands.

Cooked beef tripe cut cut into strips

Cooked beef tripe cut cut into strips

Beef tripe that is prepared well will rid this offal of its sometimes overpowering odour. Cutting the tripe into long strips and then boiling it in a separate pot will control its final texture and prevent any odour from being mixed with the main broth for the noodles.

It is also important to rinse and wash the tripe in cold after it has been boiled to get rid of any remaining impurities.

Dipping sauce for Vietnamese pho

Dipping sauce for Vietnamese pho

The fish sauce makes a big difference to dipping sauce and this dipping sauce of fresh chillies, coriander, fish sauce and lemon juice is such a great complement to the tripe, beef brisket and pork meatballs.

Vietnamese pho

Vietnamese pho with beef brisket, tripe, and pork meatballs

So dear readers, which is your favourite pho restaurant in your city?

Click on any of the photos to view ChopinandMysaucepan‘s favourite recipes or simply click here.

For readers who were following my 3 slow baked turmeric chicken recipes in my previous blog post, the best tasting recipe was the second recipe which is the turmeric chicken with curry powder recipe. This recipe had the best aroma and taste because of the potent combination of turmeric and curry powder. I would make a further refinement by adding  fresh curry leaves to this recipe to provide extra fragrance.

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15 Responses to Vietnamese beef pho

  1. Dolly says:

    wow everyone is making pho!

    ive only made it once in my life >.<

    i agree with u.. viet huong is the best.. my mum use to use the one with the yellow lid and the young boy… long gone are those days! hehe

    hope u enjoyed cooking pho :)

  2. Mei Sze says:

    Oh boy oh boy! I love Pho! I eat it on a regular basis and my favourite pho place is Hung Vuong 128 Hopkins street, Footscray, VIC
    I definitely agree with you that a good pho is a subjective matter but flavour depth of the clear broth is KING in any version of pho or noodle soups. Simple rice noodles adorned with the simplest of fresh herbs, a few slices of beef or chicken is brought to life by a great soup stock! Omg..I’m salivating just thinking about pho. I’ve made pho in the past but have yet to do a post on it. Shall revisit that after I make your kai si hor fun which is still on my to do list! LOL

  3. Joanne says:

    I haven’t had pho in FOREVER but my roommate is a huge fan. Great guide to making it!

  4. Thanks for the recipe! I’ve never made Pho but have eaten plenty of it!

  5. Looks great! I agreed with you. A good bowl of pho comes from the depth of flavor you can taste in the soup.

  6. As always your photos are so great and the food looks wonderful. Makes me hungry, even this early in the morning!

  7. Jen says:

    Pho is definitely my comfort food, I have it about once a week or two. I swear the broth has medicinal properties!

  8. JasmyneTea says:

    I’m SO impressed that you made your own Pho. My favourite place is Bau Truong in Canley Heights, its the first place I tried it and even though I’ve been to other places, I always end up back there.

  9. This pho sounds so good prepared at home, thanks so much for sharing your excellent recipe!

  10. When I was living far away from Japanese ramen noodle shop, I was lucky enough to live near Vietnamese noodle place, and I literary ate 2-3 times a week. I was in college and this was like the best dinner ever. LOL. I never tried to attempt to make them at home because I never make stock from scratch before….but it’s been my dream to make my own pho at home. Yours look fantastic and keeping this recipe in my folder! We plan to go to the best pho noodle place in SF tomorrow – what a coincidence!

  11. I haven’t made pho before, but it’s delicious isn’t it? Thanks for the tip with the fish sauce too, I love it and use in a lot more than just asian recipes for a salty savoury twang.

  12. Manu says:

    This is an amazing recipe! It looks so yummy and it would be perfect in this cold weather! I also love the idea of having it without the rice noodles! :-)

  13. What a great recipe -I’ve always been too scared to try pho because of the raw beef but you’ve made me want to try some now!

  14. Oh, pho! A true love of mine. I need to make my own too, I did it at a cooking school in Vietnam, must put that to good use!! Yours looks delightful.
    Heidi xo

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