5 lbs of beef bones, short ribs, or shin bones with marrow
2 lbs flank steak
2 lbs oxtails
2 large white onions
4 oz. fresh ginger
1 lb. daikon, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
2 oz. rock sugar
Salt to taste
Spices bag ingredients:
10 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 lb. beef sirloin, thinly sliced
2 to 3 beef balls for each person
1 lb. rice noodles or Banh Phở Tuoi (serves 4 to 5 people)
1 large white onion, very thinly sliced
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups bean sprouts (serves 4 to 5 people)
1 or 2 hot chili peppers, Jalapeno or Thai hot chili, sliced
1/4 cup hot chili sauce (Tuong Ot)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 lime, cut into wedges
Fresh herbs, such as Thai basil, regular basil, or mints, separated into leaves
Fish sauce on the side for dipping
To make beef broth:
If using shin bones with marrow, then soak the night before the bones in a pot with salt and vinegar. I soak the short ribs with salt and vinegar for a few hours. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the bones, oxtails, if using, and flank steak. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain and wash very well the bones and meats under running cold water. Clean the pot very well, too.
Add 10 quarts of water to the pot. Add bones, flank steak, and bring to boil. Turn the heat down before the broth boils over. Start skimming the water’s surface to remove the foam and some of the fat. Continue to skim off the impurities that rise to the surface. Add daikon, parsnip, and rock sugar and season the broth with quite a lot of salt.
In the meantime, char the onions, ginger, and shallots directly over the burner or under the broiler until they release their fragrance. Clean them off a little and add into the broth.
To make the spices bag:
Place all the spice ingredients onto a saute pan without oil and fry until fragrant (I put all these spices into a tool that I have and works perfectly for me with this Phở recipe, but you can use a piece of cheesecloth to create a bag for all these spices). Add the spices bag into the broth in the last hour of cooking.
Check doneness of the oxtails and meats after 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. of cooking (they should be tender). Remove meats and slice thinly. If cooking the beef broth with bones, it takes 4 hours to finish (the bones that I use here do not take long).
Drain the broth and place these spices bag into the broth and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour. Remove the spices bag and drain the broth through a fine sieve or through cheesecloth. Now the Phở is ready to serve. At this point, you can add fish sauce to the broth, if needed. Put enough of the broth back into the pot to serve for 4 to 5 people and then bring the broth to a rolling boil. Freeze the rest of the broth for later use, if any is left over
Bring another 4 cords of water to boil. If using fresh noodles, it should take a few seconds in the hot water or just follow the instructions if using dry noodles.
Assembling a bowl of Phở:
Divide the noodles among 4 to 5 soup bowls. Top noodles with a few slices of flank, sirloin, and beef balls. Ladle the broth directly over the meat (beef sirloin will cook instantly). Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro. Serve with hoisin sauce, hot sauce, fresh herbs, and fresh jalapeno or hot chili
On the side, thinly place onions on a plate. Add white vinegar and mix well (optional).