Asia Recipes

V for Vietnam (Pho Bo)

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I eat the best pho (noodle soup) of my life in Hanoi in early 2008 during my trip through Vietnam.

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Vietnam 2008

In early February it was unusually cold for Vietnamese standards. Temperatures hovered just above freezing. There were no (working) heaters in the hotel. The employees stood at the breakfast buffet with gloves and woolly hats and served the guests steaming pho. The soup tasted so good and warmed me from the inside, so that I was well prepared for the upcoming visit to my godchild and his family in Soc Son, about 45 km north of Hanoi.

Vietnamese cuisine

On the occasion of the Vietnamese New Year (TET), the family served numerous delicacies, which we ate together - typical for the country - sitting on the floor with lots of rice schnapps and green tea.

Dining like a king with my godchild's family in Soc Son, North Vietnam 2008
Vietnamese New Year feast in Soc Son, North Vietnam 2008

As you can see from the pictures, Vietnamese cuisine is incredibly diverse. The generous use of fresh herbs such as mint, coriander, lemongrass, etc. gives the dishes their unique flavor that sets them apart from many other Asian cuisines. Fruit and vegetables, of course fresh from the market, are often on the menu.

Market in Hoi An, Vietnam 2008

In case meat is served, it is usually chicken or beef. In general, Vietnamese food contains little fat is and there is barely fried food. Consequently, Vietnamese cuisine is very healthy.

My personal favorite are summer rolls. Summer rolls consist of shrimp, pork, lettuce, fresh herbs, and rice noodles wrapped in rice paper sheets into a roll. A dip constisting of fish sauce and lime juice is served with it. In the north of Vietnam they are called NEM CUỐN while in the south they are called GỎI CUỐN.

Delicious summer rolls in Saigon, Vietnam 2008



Many Vietnamese eat rice soup (congee) for breakfast. It is very gentle on the stomach, filling and therefore an ideal start to the day. You can also find a delicious recipe for congee on my blog here.

Banh Mi

Until 1956 Vietnam was part of Indochina and occupied by the French. That's why you can find freshly baked baguettes everywhere in Vietnam. In contrast to French baguette, in Vietnam a little rice flour is added to the dough.

Banh Mi is a richly topped baguette (e.g. with grilled pork, pie, sausage, salad and herbs). In Vietnam, it is usually freshly prepared at many mobile street-foos stalls at breakfast time.


Pho is definitely the most famous national dish in Vietnam. It is known and loved all over the world. In Vietnam, pho is usually eaten for breakfast, but also throughout the day.

Pho is actually a simple noodle soup made from beef or chicken broth. However, the unique broth makes the difference. It is packed with delicious flavors and makes pho to a real taste explosion.

Vietnamese noodle soup in Saigon, Vietnam 2008

What variants are there?

There are differences between the pho being served in northern Vietnam and the one being served in southern Vietnam.

The Pho Bo from the north is very strong. It is prepared with beef (Bo), spices and herbs. The focus here is on the strong and intense meat flavor of the broth. Less spices, herbs and sugar are used than in the south. In addition, the broth in the south is usually prepared with chicken (Ga) instead of beef (bo).

How to make Pho

The key to an authentic and flavorful pho is the broth. The broth must simmer for at least three hours so that the flavors can develop fully. You really have to take a lot of time preparing the broth. It is best to prepare the broth the day before. At the next day it will taste even better. Furthermore, the actual preparation of the soup (cooking pasta, cutting meat, washing herbs) will be very easy.

Pho Bo

Have fun cooking and enjoying!

Pho Bo

5 from 1 vote
Course Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine Asian, Vietnamese
Servings 4 very big portions


For the broth

  • 1 kg beef bones
  • 1 pieces ginger (approx. 7 cm)
  • 120 g small red shallots from the Asian market
  • 800 g beef brisket
  • 5 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp.  peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. Fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. salt

For the soup

  • 400 g flat rice noodles
  • 300 g rump or sirloin steak

For serving:

  • 4 Spring onions (the green: cut into small rolls, the white: cut lengthwise into fine strips)
  • 1/2 bunch coriander (fresh)
  • 1/2 bunch Vietnamese mint
  • 2 Limes (quartered)
  • 1 – 2 red chili peppers (deseeded and cut into rings)
  • Fish sauce
  • pepper


For the broth

  • Cover the bones with water in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour off the water. Clean pot.
  • Knochen abspülen und wieder in den Topf geben. Mit 4 l Wasser bedecken. Aufkochen.
  • Cover and simmer gently over low heat for 2 hours. Occasionally skim off the foam.
  • Fry the ginger and shallots in a grill pan until brown (alternatively: roast under the grill). Remove black spots.
  • Add the ginger and shallots to the broth with the remaining spices and the brisket.
  • Cover and simmer for about 2.5 hours until the meat is tender but not falling apart.
  • Occasionally skim off the foam.
  • Remove from the heat, let cool and skim off the fat.
  • Remove the brisket and place in a bowl filled with ice water (this will prevent the meat from discoloring).
  • Once the meat has cooled, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge.
  • Strain the broth through a fine sieve or strainer.
  • Strain the broth through a fine sieve or strainer.
  • Boil the broth in a saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Season with fish sauce and sugar if necessary.
  • Thinly slice the beef brisket.

For the soup

  • Freeze the steak for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat four soup bowls.
  • Put the noodles in a bowl, cover with lukewarm water and let stand for about 20 minutes.
  • Cut the lightly frozen steak into wafer-thin slices.
  • Let the steak strips simmer in the hot broth for about 10 seconds while stirring. As soon as the strips start to color, take them out.
  • Bring plenty of water to a boil in a saucepan. Drain the rice noodles and cook in portions in the boiling water for about 30 seconds.
  • Drain the pasta and divide between the four preheated bowls.
  • 3 – 4 Scheiben Rinderbrust und 2 Steakscheiben auf die Nudeln geben.
  • In a separate pot, bring 375 ml of broth to the boil.
  • Divide the broth among the 4 bowls.

For serving:

  • Garnish with spring onions, coriander, mint and some chili rings.
  • Flavor with lime juice and fish sauce.

If you like this post, I look forward to a rating (star bar) or a nice comment!

Thanks a lot!

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