• Servings: makes 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: medium
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Prep: 1.5 hours |  Cooking: 6 hours |

This is a yummy phở or pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), has a flavorful broth and is a rainbow of color!

Acknowledgment: Kudos to The Guardian (UK). I have cut a few corners, and don’t use raw meat to simplify the dish.  Make the broth at least a day prior to serving.


  • 1.5kg beef bones
  • 1.5kg oxtail
  • 1 onion, unpeeled
  • 200g ginger, unpeeled
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 5 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 strips of dried orange peel
  • 50ml fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp rock or soft light brown sugar
  • 600g wide flat dried rice noodles
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 2  bird’s eye chillis, finely sliced
  • 4 handfuls of bean sprouts
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Large bunch of coriander, to serve
  • Large bunch of Thai basil, to serve
  • Cut some fresh chilli, ginger, lime, scallions to serve on the side


  1. Put the bones and oxtail in a very large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then boil for about 10-15 minutes, until scum rises to the surface. Drain, discarding the water, rinse the bones and meat well, and clean the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, char the onion and ginger on a rack set over the hob, or using a blow torch, or (and only if neither of these things are available) the grill or a hot griddle pan, until well blackened, which should take about 15 minutes. Peel off the skin as far as possible.
  3. Put the bones and meat back in the pan and cover with three litres of cold water, or as much as you can fit in. Add the onion and ginger, the spices and orange peel (preferably in a muslin pouch or similar to make life easier later) and bring to the boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer gently for at least five hours, skimming as necessary, until the oxtail is falling off the bone. Strain, retaining the oxtail and, if you have time, cool the broth and skim the fat from the top if desired. You should have about two litres. If the broth is lacking flavor, then add 1/4 cup of beef broth, extra herbs and continue to cook.
  4. Add the fish sauce, sugar, salt and black pepper to the broth to taste, and pick the meat from the oxtail. If the broth is lacking flavor, then add 1/4 cup of beef broth, extra herbs and continue to cook. Put the broth in the fridge at least overnight. You will need to skim the fat from the stock.
  5. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions and divide between four bowls.
  6. Pour the hot broth over the noodles and scatter with spring onion, a little chilli and the bean sprouts, if using, then lay the picked oxtail on top. Serve with the limes and remaining chilli on the side along with the herbs and condiments.