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
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
sriracha (hot sauce)
Really big stock/soup pot