- 5 pounds beef bones with marrow
- 5 pounds oxtails
- 2 pounds short rib plate, or 1 pound flank steak
- 2 large onions, unpeeled, halved and studded with 8 whole cloves
- 3 shallots, unpeeled
- 2 ounces fresh gingerroot, unpeeled and in one piece
- 8 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 medium parsnips, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 pound beef sirloin
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon shredded coriander (cilantro leaves)
- 2 medium onions, sliced paper-thin
- 1/4 cup hot chile sauce (tuong ot or sriracha sauce)
- 1 pound 1/4 inch wide dried rice sticks (banh pho)
- 1/2 cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
- 2 fresh red chile peppers, sliced
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1 bunch fresh mint, separated into leaves
- 1 bunch of fresh Asian basil or regular fresh basil, separated into leaves
*Note: In order to cut the beef into paper-thin slices, freeze the piece of meat for 30 minutes before slicing.
To prepare: First clean the bones under cold running water and soak overnight in a pot with water to cover at room temperature. (This will help loosen the impurities inside the bones. When heat is applied, these impurities are released and come to the top much faster and can be removed, therefore, producing a clear broth.)
Place the beef bones, oxtails and short rib plate in a large stockpot. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook after 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse the pot and the bones.
Return the bones to the pot and add 6 quarts of water. Bring to a boil. Skim the surface to remove the foam and fat. Stir the bones in the bottom of the pot from time to time to free the impurities. Continue skimming until the foam ceases to rise. Add 3 quarts more water and bring to a boil. Skim off the residue that forms on the top. Turn the heat to low and simmer.
Meanwhile, char the clove-studded onions, shallots and ginger directly over a gas burner or under the broiler until they release their fragrant odors. Tie the charred vegetables, star anise and cinnamon stick in a double thickness of dampened cheesecloth. Add the spice bag, parsnips and salt to the shimmering broth. Simmer for 1 hour.
Remove the short rib plates. Pull the meat away from the bones. Reserve the meat and return the bones to the pot. Simmer the broth, uncovered, for 4 to 5 hours. Keep an eye on it; as the liquid boils away, add enough fresh water to cover the bones.
Meanwhile, slice the beef sirloin against the grain into paper-thin slices, roughly 2 by 2 inches in size. Slice the reserved short rib meat paper-thin. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the scallions, coriander and half of the sliced onions. Place the remaining sliced onions in a small bowl and stir in the hot chile sauce. Blend well. Soak the rice sticks in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
When the broth is ready, remove and discard all of the bones. Strain the broth through a strainer or colander lined with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth into a clean pot. Add the fish sauce and bring the broth to boil. Reduce the heat and keep the broth at a bare simmer.
In another pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Drain the noodles, then drop them in the boiling water. Drain immediately. Divide the noodles among 4 large soup bowls. Top the noodles with the sliced meats. Bring the broth to a rolling boil. Ladle the broth directly over the meat in each bowl. (The boiling broth will cook the raw beef instantly). Garnish with the scallion mixture and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve the onions in hot chile sauce and the accompaniments on the side. Each diner will add these ingredients as desired.
Makes 4 servings