I first tried pho a few years ago at a local Vietnamese restaurant and thought it had the best broth I had ever tasted. I was determined to see if I could make it at home. I tried several different recipes on the net, but no single one of them had the flavor I was looking for. I had mentioned it one time to one of the staff at the restaurant, and was told 'There is no way this flavor can be gotten at home'. Well, the gauntlet had obviously been thrown and I was more than stubborn enough to take up the challenge! After many hours in the kitchen, scouring the internet for tips,  and taste tests by family and friends, the end result is just as tasty (if not more so) than what was served at the restaurant.

The main recipe is for the tripe and meatball version (hence the house special title). However, I also give alternate directions in the steps for a regular beef version. The basic process and core ingredients are the same. The broth is also extremely tasty on it's own and can be used for other recipes as well. This makes a lot, so there may be lots of leftovers to figure out what to do with.

There are recipes out there that use pre-made spice mixes and pre-made broth. If you are looking for a quick recipe, this is probably not the Instructable for you. I prefer to have the freedom to add the amount of spices I like best and making the extremely tasty broth from scratch is most of the point for me. I document things I've tried during this process that have (and have not) worked very well.

The spices here have applications in many other types of food, so if you don't have them on hand, don't panic that you'll be buying them and only using them once. I've gotten some of mine in bulk from the local Indian and Asian markets. They are a fraction of the cost to get them there than in the little jars at the grocery store. I put the excess in ziplock bags and store them in the freezer so they don't lose their potency.

Step 1: Ingredients

Do not let the ingredient list intimidate you! This can be a bit daunting the first time you make it, since there are a lot of prep steps involved...and then waiting. But the end result is definitely worth it.


4-6 lb beef roast (I usually get whatever is on sale at the grocery store)
3 onions, yellow or white cut in half lengthwise
1 medium sized ginger root, cut in half lengthwise
1 lb beef bones - I used 2 lbs here, but it was a bit too much. I have gotten these fairly cheap in my local Asian market and also in the frozen meat section in my grocery store (near where the quail, liver and other similar meats are)
2/3 c fish sauce - This is not optional!
4 tbsp Salt
2 oz palm sugar (white sugar will work also)

For normal beef pho
-- very thin sliced flank steak, maybe 1/2 to 1 lb

For my alternate tripe version (all of these items came from my local asian market, but some can be purchased at a regular grocery store):
  • 1 package beef omasum (beef tripe) - Omasum is preferred over the honeycomb type. It tastes cleaner and gets more tender when cooked.
  • 1 package precooked beef meatballs - NOT the frozen kind used for spaghetti!
  • 1 package precooked beef and tendon meatballs (I'd never tried these before, but figured it couldn't hurt to try them)
  • 2 packages precooked shredded pork skin, chopped up - unless you want to sub these for noodles
  • cheesecloth

2 cinnamon sticks
4 black cardamom pods (if you only have ground, use 1/8 tsp. Do NOT try and toast the ground with the rest of the spices. I will give instructions on when to add it if that is all you have)
3 Tbsp whole coriander seed (ground will not work well for this)
1 Tbsp fennel seed
15 whole cloves
8 star anise
3 bay leaves
5 black peppercorns

Final noodle bowl assembly items:
1 package rice noodes
bunch cilantro
bean sprouts
sriracha (hot sauce)
lime wedges

Really big stock/soup pot

Hello everybody, all you very lucky people who have really Viet restarants in your cities. Here where in Switzerland we had a wonderful family run resturant with the greatest Phô ever, so says my Vietnamese hubby. I tried over and over to make for him, and now you came along to save the day. Thank you ever so much Venecha!!!!
You are very welcome! One thing that I've found is that you can use oxtail instead of just beef bones. Feel free to message me with any questions. I've tried so many different things to get this the way I wanted it from scratch and not use a pre-made broth, I'd be happy to share whatever info I can.<br><br>Ironically, this is what I am making today for thanksgiving here in the US. It was a unanimous vote at my house.
Too much work, restaurant here I come!
*laughs* It can be a lot of work, that is true. But the results are crazy tasty. Of course, our local vietnamese restaurant closed so this is my only option at this point.
What a great deal of work you put into this! It looks very good. I have never tried this kind of soup but it is very tempting! This is a great instructable! Thank you for sharing your hard work!
I &lt;3 Pho! !
a great soup, cant wait to share the location of these recipes so that<br>all my friends and relatives can try this and others. You have someting<br>here for everyone. This web site is a great idea. Again was able to<br>make soup as tasty as a resturant
wow, I'm surprised. I'm Vietnamese and I eat this like every week. Never thought that there are foreigners who like this so much. So proud!
Thank you!! <br><br>The first taste I had of this, I was an instant convert! My local restaurant shut down, so now I -have- to make this at home. I might have to attempt the insanely spicy lemongrass chicken at some point...
Nice food, that looks delicious.
Thanks, its fine
I'm not big on soups but this looks really good, what does it taste like?
heaven made into soup :D lol
You've never had Pho?! You're missing out dude! It's fantastic stuff. I'm not a fan of tripe or beef balls, but the 'rare beef' version where you serve the soup piping hot and the beef raw, then you dip the 'jerky thin' slices of beef in the soup where it instantly cooks. <br><br>It takes like no other. As aeray says, its strong umami flavour, along with the other spices knock your socks off.
Vietnamese cuisine is not very popular here in Mexico, actually where i live there are no restaurants of that type, anyhow i'll try and give it a go.
I don't know where you're at in Mexico, but the DF should have some good Vietnamese. One of the best Korean meals I've ever had was at a restaurant in the there, on the edge of the Zona Rosa.
Thank you for the nice comment! It is kind of hard to describe, but I will give it a go.<br><br> It has a very rich flavor, with a hint of all the spices that are in it (cloves, cardamom, coriander and so forth). You can't really taste the cinnamon, but you notice when you leave it out. *grin* There are times when I make this and only have the broth part. I'm not much of a soup person either, but the flavors in this one are really complex, so it makes it extra tasty. To me at least. <br><br>As for the &quot;other&quot; meat bits...they don't really have flavor all by themselves (the tripe and pig skin). They are more of a textural element to make it interesting. I had never used pig skin previously in anything (as I really don't like the fried kind) and was pretty skeptical. But I had tasted the house pho at the restaurant and it wasn't what I expected at all. In the batch that I made, I didn't cut the skins up. So I could have used it for noodles instead of the rice ones. <br><br>For regular beef, you get the nice beef taste along with the broth and it is oh-so-very yummy.
Thanks, i'll give it a try (if a can find all the stuff here in Mexico).
Oh yeah!!! VIET PRIDE! tho in san jose, ca, there's vietnamese pho restaraunts and people everywhere, and a lot of people take that for granted!!
Wow! This looks really good. I love Pho and probably eat it once every couple weeks at restaurants. I have a few favorites here in Vancouver, where there are a LOT of pho restaurants. What I don't like about restaurant pho is it often contains a lot of MSG, which I don't like and gives me a headache. I've always thought it would be nice to make it from scratch, and I've seen some recipes in books and online, but it's nice to see pictures and instructions of someone who has actually made it, makes it seem possible. I've made elaborate recipes before, just wouldn't want to go to the trouble of making a beef stock for pho if I didn't know it was going to taste good, and it really sounds like yours does! I'm actually salivating as I write. Good job!
Excellent. I'll be making it soon. @joreknight- I don't really consider pho to be soup. It's more like meat and noodles in a delicious thin sauce. When made properly, it has fresh, simple-seeming flavors that become more complex, and hit hard on the umami end of things.
I'd love to know how it turns out after you make it! And any changes you make t that make it better. It is definitely a lot of work, but oh-so-very worth it!
Will do. I'll make it as per your recipe the first time around, but it may be a bit. It will take a minor &quot;perfect storm&quot; to have simultaneous access to all of the ingredients. I went to the store the other day, here in Montucky, in a town of about 30,000 people, and they were out of cabbage. They are also frequently out of cilantro and/or limes. I went to three stores a few weeks ago looking for port. Funnily enough, though, the odd meaty bits won't be a problem. Lamb tongues? Pig tails? Buffalo tongues? Oxtails? Lamb kidneys? Smoked hocks? Hog jowls? No problem, locally raised, and often next day service. Weird.
That looks so delicious I'm drooling as I read this page!

About This Instructable


133 favorites


More by venecha: Meat Onna Stick (aka. Chicken Teriyaki) Very Umami Soy Infused Eggs Pho-nominal House Special Pho!
Add instructable to: