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Pho Tai Nam (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

For my version of Vietnamese Pho, I make my broth with oxtail, charred onions and ginger, along with spices such as star anise and cinnamon. Topped with fresh herbs, tender brisket and thinly sliced rare fillet, this bowl of Pho is a sublime feast for the senses. 

Course Entree
Cuisine Vietnamese
Level Intermediate
Main Ingredient Beef, Noodles
Diet Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Fat
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 bowls

Ingredients

for stock

  • 560 grams oxtail
  • 275 grams brisket
  • 25 grams ginger
  • 175 grams onion (1/2 large onion)
  • 5 grams cinnamon
  • 3 grams star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cilantro roots

for pho

  • 400 grams Banh Pho Noodles (dried flat rice noodles)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (to taste)
  • 50 grams onion (about 1/4 onion)
  • cilantro
  • beef tenderloin (sliced paper thin)

to serve

  • bean sprouts
  • lime
  • Thai basil
  • hoisin sauce (optional)
  • sriracha (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a pressure cooker full of water to a rolling boil. Add the oxtail and brisket to the boiling water and return to a boil. Set the timer for 12 minutes, after the water returns to a boil. Prepare a bowl of cold water.
  2. While the bones are boiling, put the onion and ginger on a sheet pan and place directly under the heating element of your broiler, cut side up. Broil until the onion and ginger is nicely charred.
  3. When the timer goes off, remove the oxtail and brisket and transfer them to the water to chill. Wash the bones thoroughly to remove any congealed blood, or other contaminants that can cloud your soup. Wash the pot out well, and then add the bones and meat back in.
  4. Put the cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds and cloves into a pan and roast on the stove, tossing frequently to prevent burning, until the spices are fragrant.
  5. Add the roasted spices to the pot with the brisket and bones and then add the cilantro roots and 8 cups of water. Seal the lid and bring the cooker up to high pressure. When it's at pressure, set the timer for 30 minutes.
  6. When the timer goes off, use the quick release method to release the pressure from your cooker and when the pressure has gone down, open the lid. Remove the brisket, and quickly wrap it in plastic wrap, to prevent the meat from drying out. Let this come down to room temperature and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
  7. Seal the lid to the pressure cooker again and bring the pot back up to high pressure. Continue cooking the broth for another 45 minutes and then let the pressure drop naturally.
  8. When the pressure has dropped, open the lid and use tongs to remove the oxtail and set aside(you can pick the meat and connective tissue off the oxtails to serve on top of your Pho, or season it and press it into a terrine). Pass the stock through a fine mesh sieve to remove the aromatics and then skim off most, but not all, of the fat.
  9. You should now have 5 cups of stock. If you have less, add some water to make 5 cups. If you have more, you will need to boil your stock down a little more to concentrate it.
  10. To prepare the Pho, soak the banh pho in warm water for an hour to rehydrate. When the noodles no longer have a tough core, drain them. You can store them in a sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a day.
  11. Put the prepared stock in a pot and add the fish sauce and evaporated cane juice, adjusting both to taste. Keep the Pho broth warm over low heat.
  12. Because the noodles will get soggy quickly be sure to have your table prepped with condiments and have all your toppings prepared so you can assemble all the bowls and get them to the table as quickly as possible.
  13. Slice the onion as thinly as possible and then soak them in water. Slice the cooked brisket. Slice the tenderloin as thinly as possible.
  14. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. The rehydrated noodles should cook in about 1 minute, so have a strainer ready and add the noodles to the boiling water. Drain as soon as they're cooked (you'll want them to still be a little chewy as they will continue to cook in the bowls with the broth).
  15. Divide the noodles between your bowls and top with the sliced onions, cilantro, brisket and raw tenderloin. Bring the Pho broth to a boil and divide it between the bowls and serve with the rest of the condiments and toppings.