Members' Recipes Archive

February 2001
Pho Bo - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
Elsa Petersen-Scepelern

Pho Bo - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

By: Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

Serves: 4

THOSE who scoff at fusion food will just have to scoff! I come from a country of immigrants – and my own family is enthusiastically hybrid. This one comes from the Vietnamese branch. Pho bo is of course one of the great Vietnamese classics: this is our version, made on weekends to remind some of us of home.


2 packets fresh ho-fun noodles or 4 bundles dried bahn pho broad rice noodles (just don't use wheat-based ones)
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
2–4 hot red chillies, deseeded if you like, but finely sliced
250 g rump or fillet steak, very finely sliced (freezing it first will make it easier to slice)
2 limes, 1 juiced, 1 quartered
a bunch of fresh coriander, torn
a bunch of Vietnamese basil, torn (don't use ordinary basil – omit it if you can't find the real thing)
a bunch of Vietnamese mint or ordinary mint, torn
75 ml nuoc mam (fish sauce), to serve

Vietnamese beef stock:
3 litres beef stock
3–4 onions, finely sliced
2.5 cm fresh ginger, sliced
8 star anise
½ lime or lemon, with rind, sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar


  1. To make the Vietnamese beef stock, put all the stock ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep hot.
  2. Meanwhile, if using dried noodles, put them in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for about 30 minutes, then drain and keep in cold water until ready to serve. If using ho-fun, cut or separate them into strips, soak in hot water for a few minutes, then keep in cold water until ready to serve.
  3. Blanch the onion in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain the noodles, then dip in a saucepan of boiling water for a minute or so until hot, then divide between big soup bowls. Add the blanched onion and chillies, then put the sliced beef on top.
  4. Return the beef stock to the boil, then strain it into the bowls. Add the lime juice and herbs. Serve with wedges of lime and a separate bowl of fish sauce.
NB: If you want to make the beef stock from scratch, simmer about 2 kg beef bones and 750 g stewing steak with the rest of the stock ingredients for an hour or two.

© recipe copyright 2001 Elsa Petersen-Scepelern


Author: Elsa Petersen-Scepelern Email:

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