In Viet Nam you would go out to eat Pho. No one ever cook it at home ever. Hence if you ever hear about some guy eating Pho all the time and not rice it means he’s sleeping around, for Pho means mistresses/girl friends and rice means wife.

When we first came here in the early 80s there was no restaurants around, Asian groceries was a rarity. There was no internet back then and to learn how to cook a dish it was through words of mouth  from friends or relatives or mail by snail mail.

I remembered mum having to write letters to the US asking for recipes from my dad’s aunties how to make pork loaf..etc..for back in Viet Nam we had servants/maids and thus she didn’t have to cook.

When we came here not only did she have to work full-time to help dad out but coming home to cook for all 6 or 7 of us when my little sister came along.

Now we just take the kids out to Pho at our usual haunt in Richmond (I Love Pho) or we go to mum and dad for it. Nothing beat home made Pho. My dad would make a pot and call all of us over to eat. It is his way of saying he loves us.

As for me I only make it rarely , when I am in the mood to cook. Other than that I jus give it a miss altogether. To cook it is relatively simple it is just the cleaning up afterwards that I hate.

My version of Pho..


3kg ox tail

1 kg brisket

1-2 packets of beef balls (cut into quarters) buy the Viet Huong brand and the large balls

1 kg beef sliced thinly (topside, eye fillet, girello)

1 onion peeled and charred on stove (scrape off the blackened bits )

1 ginger peeled and charred on stove (scrape off the blackened bits )

5 star aniseed, 10 cloves, 1-2 cinnamon stick, 1 cardamon (spices for beef soup super food brand )

I use a tea leaves ball holder to pop the spices in so they don’t get lost in the soup..

Chuck everything together in a pot..ox tail, onion, ginger, spices, brisket (take out after about 45minutes-1hour) ****alternatively cook the brisket in a separate pot.

cook for about 4-5 hours..the longer the sweeter the taste..The soup is sweeter if combined with some chicken stock about 1/3 chicken stock

Add some sugar, fish sauce to taste. My dad use salt as he reckons the fish sauce gives a sour taste if added too much.

You can microwave fresh rice noodles just before pouring the soup on or use the dry one by pre-soaking them in water for about an hour and just before eating boil a pot of water using a strainer to dip them in to cook.

I find the dry ones nicer, the fresh one too soft.

When ready to eat take some soup out into a little pot to dip the sliced beef in and to warm up the beef balls. This will keep the soup in the main pot clear.

Garnish with spring onion, sliced onion, coriander. Have it with bean shoots, basil leaves.

****recipe is for a big stock parents freeze their soup for impromptu Phở ..

****best to leave overnight in the fridge so all the fat becomes a layer that you can just take out the next day before serving