Vietnemese Beef Noodle Soup (pho bo) On my todo list for a long time as been a proper meaty stock. I had lined up the ingredients to make a large veal stock, but unfortunately the necessary veal shins fell through ( apparently they chop the legs off the calves at birth so they stack better in the barn ). In a slump I searched around on the net for something to make in it's place and came across a few pho recipes. I took this as divine ( as far as stumbling across something on google can be described as such ) intervention and headed down to the supermarket to get some ingredients. Ordinarily I'll go to a good quality butcher to get my meats, but seeing as I was just getting mostly bones, I decided supermarket food would be fine. The Pho base stock takes about 3 hours, and I was pretty happy with the end result, although the spices ( star anise especially ) didn't really shine through as much as I'd hoped, I might toast them first next time. Adding the herbs and chilli etc from the garnish plate added plenty of character to the soup. I got about 3.5 litres of stock in the end, so a couple of litres are destined for the freezer. Pho Stock 2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound total) 4-inch piece ginger (about 4 ounces) 2.5 kg beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones) 1.5 kg chicken necks 5 star anise 6 whole cloves handful of garlic shoots ( optional ) 3-inch cinnamon stick 500g diced beef 1 1/2 tablespoons salt 4 tablespoons fish sauce 4 tablespoons of brown sugar Put your bones and chicken necks into a stockpot ( 12 litre pot minimum ) cover them with water and bring to a boil, after a few minutes of fast boiling tip out into the sink and wash the meats in warm water. This helps get rid of any grit and gross bits. Give the pot a quick wipe out, and put the bones/necks back in the pot. While doing the above dice the onion and slice the garlic, put in a pan over a low heat to soften, but try not to let it colour too much. Stir occasionally. when softened turn off the heat and throw all the non-meat ingredients on top. Add 6 litres of water to the stockpot and bring back to the boil. After a few short minutes of boiling turn the heat right down to a slow simmer. Add in the diced beef and simmer for a few minutes. Now add in the rest of the ingredients from the pan to the stock and give it a stir. Simmer for about 1.5 hours, check every 15 minutes to adjust heat if necessary and remove any scum. At this stage you can remove the diced beef and put into cold water to chill, and then into the fridge. This can be used in the pho when it's served. I had a hard time finding the meat chunks so didn't worry about this step. Continue cooking the stock for another 1.5 hours. ( spend this time productively annoying your pets ) Remove the bones and necks from the stock using large tongs. Feel free to suck the left over marrow out of the bones with a straw ( yum! ) or even scoop them out into the stock so as not to waste it. Strain the soup through a fine strainer to remove any left over solids, and hopefully filter out any grit. If your strainer isn't fine enough, you can try to use a paper coffee filter inside it. Let the stock cool to room temperature and then refridgerate overnight. The next day, there should be a solid layer of fat on the top of the stock, this should be scooped out with a spoon. Underneath should be a nice gelatinous thick stock. Pour this into a stockpot and bring to the boil again, strain again. Let the stock cool the room temperature and refrigerate/freeze as suits your needs. Vietnemese Beef Noodle Soup (pho bo) This is assuming you're using all of the above stock, should give enough for 8 decent bowls. Divide it as many times as necessary to suit the number of people you're cooking for. Pho stock, from above. 800g small dried or fresh banh pho noodles ("rice sticks'' or Thai chantaboon) 500g raw eye of round, sirloin, or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice) 100g dried shitake mushrooms 1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, left to soak for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water 3 or 4 spring onions, green part only, cut into thin rings 1/3 cup chopped coriander (ngo) Ground black pepper Sprigs of mint (hung lui) and Asian/Thai basil (hung que) Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound) Red hot chiles (such as Thai bird ), thinly sliced Lime wedges Bring the stock up to a steady simmer. In another pot simmer your noodles and mushrooms for a few minutes. Taste the stock and adjust the seasoning with salt/pepper/fish sauce/sugar. While simmering, prepare the rest of the ingredients onto a garnish plate. Pour the stock into bowls and add a portion of the noodle/mushroom mix ( drained ) to each bowl. Bring to the table immediately. You can add the beef at this stage too, or let the people eating do it themselves at the table. The heat of the soup is hot enough to cook the thin beef in a few short minutes. Each participant can then use the garnishes to customize their pho to how they like it. Make sure they actually do use the garnishes as they do add plenty of character to the Pho.