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A Cooking Adventure with Thom

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Hanoi Beef and Noodle Soup

Thom Hackett
Recipe from Weldon Owen, Far East Cafe

Serves: 6


Because it is light, hot and refreshing, the broth used to make pho is often enjoyed as a morning consommé in Vietnam.  It also makes a satisfying late-night snack.  The best versions of pho are available in street stalls or coffee shops that specialize in the soup.


3 pounds oxtails, chopped into sections
3 pounds beef shanks
½ quarts water
3 pieces fresh ginger, each 1 inch long, unpeeled
1 large yellow onion, unpeeled and cut in half
4 shallots, unpeeled
1 pound Chinese radishes, cut into
2-inch chunks
3 carrots, unpeeled, cut into chunks
4 whole star anise
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ cup fish sauce


For Beef, Rice Noodles and Accompaniments:
½ pound beef round, in one piece and at least 2 inches thick
1 pound dried flat rice stick noodles,
¼" wide
1 large yellow onion
2 green onions
2 fresh small red chili peppers
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges


Cooking Method


  1. Combine the oxtails, beef shanks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. 

  2. Meanwhile, preheat a broiler (griller). 

  3. Place the ginger, onion and shallots on a baking sheet and broil (grill), turning frequently, until browned on all sides, 1-2 minutes. 

  4. Set aside.

When the water reaches a boil, using a large spoon or a wire skimmer, skim off the scum from the surface, skimming until the liquid is clear of all foam, about 10 minutes. 

  1. Add the browned vegetables and the radishes, carrots, star anise, cloves and cinnamon to the pot. 

  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer gently for 3½ hours to concentrate the flavor.

Remove the broth from the heat and let cool. 

  1. Strain the broth through a sieve into a bowl, discarding the contents of the sieve. 

  2. Let stand until the fat rises to the surface. 

  3. Using a large spoon, skim off the fat and discard. 

  4. Add the fish sauce and salt to taste.  (The broth can be made 1 day in advance, covered and refrigerated.) 

  • You should have about 8 cups.


  1. To prepare the beef, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze until partially frozen, about 1 hour. 

  2. Meanwhile, soak the dried rice noodles: 

  3. Place them in a large bowl, add warm water to cover and let stand until soft and pliable, about 20 minutes. 

  4. Drain and set aside. 

  5. Cut the beef across the grain into paper-thin slices about 2 inches wide by 3 inches long. 

  6. Set aside.


  1. Bring the broth to a boil. 

  2. Reduce the heat to low to keep the broth warm. 

  3. Thinly slice the yellow and green onions and the chilies; set aside.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil. 

  1. Add the noodles and boil until tender, about 1 minute.  Drain and divide the noodles evenly among 6 warmed deep soup bowls.

  2. Top each bowl evenly with the onions, a few slices of the beef and some chili slices. 

  3. Ladle the hot broth over the top; this will cook the beef. 

  • Garnish with the cilantro and mint.

Serve with lime wedges.

819 Mountshire Terrace, Chester, Virginia 23836 Phone: (804) 530-1183