One of my greatest memories growing up is eating mums PHO.
Now that I have a family of my own I can finally share in this delicious bowl of happiness. Here is our family recipe:
2 kg oxtail (ask your butcher to chop it into 3 cm/11/4 inch pieces)
4 tablespoons salt
1 unpeeled garlic bulb
4 large unpeeled onions
150 g unpeeled ginger
2 kg beef brisket
185 ml fish sauce
80 g rock sugar
Fresh rice noodles (you will need about 200gm per person)
400 g trimmed sirloin, thinly sliced
4 spring onions sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of bean sprouts
1 bunch Asian basil
2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
8 whole cloves
5 star anise
40 cm square piece muslin cloth
In a large pot, submerge the oxtail in cold water, add 3 tablespoons of the salt and soak for 1 hour, then drain.
To make the spice pouch, dry roast each ingredient separately in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Cool, then coarsely grind using a mortar and pestle or small spice grinder. Add the ground spices to the muslin square and tie up tightly in a knot. Set aside.
Heat a barbecue grill or char gill pan over medium-high heat and grill the unpeeled garlic, onions and ginger evenly for 15 minutes in total until all sides are blackened. Now peel the blackened skins and discard them, and then roughly chop. By doing this, the garlic, onion and ginger becomes sweet and fragrant, releasing more flavour into the stock.
Put the oxtail, beef bones, brisket and 6 litres of cold water in a stockpot and bring to the boil. While the stock is boiling, constantly skim any impurities off the surface for 15 minutes (this will ensure a clean, clear broth), then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the fish sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon of salt, rock sugar, garlic, onions, ginger and spice pouch.
Cover and simmer for 4 hours, or until the stock has reduced to almost half.
Strain the stock through a muslin cloth. Remove the brisket, set aside to cool, then thinly slice.
Blanch each portion of noodles in boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl. Place three or four slices of brisket on top of the noodles, followed by three or four pieces of raw sirloin. Pour over the hot stock to cover the noodles and beef.
Garnish with 1 tablespoon of spring onion, a pinch of black pepper and a coriander sprig to each bowl. At the table, add chilli, bean sprouts, basil and a squeeze of lime.