Oh, The Places You’ll Phở

Pairs Well With…Chopsticks + Culture in a Bowl + Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner

You. Yeah, you. The one thinking “Doesn’t she know that phở is pronounced FA (not FO)?”  Well, yes, yes I do.  But let’s be honest, the annunciation as FO lends itself to many more jokes.  So, for the sake of humoring myself, bear with me and my witty phở jokes throughout this post and I swear to it that the payoff will be a phởnominal recipe you won’t regret spending time on.

Now, for many of you, it’s still winterish where you are, and there is snow on the ground.  You’re looking for those last indoor activities to pass time until spring arrives.  Keep your eye on the prize. You’re almost there.  Stay warm through the remainder of winter by phởmiliarizing yourself with this bowl of noodle goodness.

As many of you have seen from my pictures and Instagram stories, I’ve become slightly obsessed with phở since moving to Vietnam.  For those of you unfamiliar with this phởfilling dish, let me get you up to speed.  Phở is a Vietnamese broth soup with rice noodles (called bánh phở) and meat, usually chicken or beef.  This soup is eaten in Vietnam anytime of day, including breakfast.  (Soup for breakfast is still a slightly odd concept for me to get my head around.) Phở is a healthy dish low in fat, calories and carbs.  It’s also amped up in the spices and flavor department.

As I moved about the city tasting various bowls of soup, I talked to restaurant owners, a few chefs and a handful of locals about the process of making a good phở.  Based on what I was told, I combed the interwebs to find an authentic Vietnamese recipe that fit the description of the insights shared with me – and I found a great one.

Before I give you the goods, I’ll take this as my chance to educate you on the elements that make the perfect phở:

  • A savory, flavorful broth
  • Perfectly cooked noodles
  • Good cuts of meat
  • Flavorful seasonings at just the right amounts

Making phở is a labor of love.  There are shortcuts to make this soup, but the key to success is in your base, the broth.  I know you’re thinking, “Ugh. This is going to take phởever!!!”  Be patient. Stay phởcused.  You’ll have a great time phở ‘sho!

Here we go…it’ll be pretty phởking amazing!



2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound total)
4-inch piece ginger (about 4 ounces)
5-6 pounds beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones)
5-star anise (40-star points total)
6 whole cloves
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 pound piece of beef chuck, rump, brisket or cross rib roast, cut into 2-by-4-inch pieces (weight after trimming).
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar (duong phen; see Note)

1 1/2-2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh banh pho noodles (rice noodles)
1/2 pound raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, left to soak for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water
3 or 4 scallions, green part only, cut into thin rings
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper

Click here to get the full cooking instructions.  But before you leave, don’t forget to leave your email so we can stay in touch over the next year.  I’ve got many months of exciting adventures ahead, including a quick visit to Australia next week before moving to Cambodia for the month of April.

5 Responses to “Oh, The Places You’ll Phở”

  1. Diane Staba

    Loved your wordplay on Pho! This receipe is fa’scinating and I will be shopping for the ingredients this weekend to try 🙂

    • pairswellwith@gmail.com

      I think you’ll really like it. It’s a nice switch up from chicken noodle.


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