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How to Make Pho, According to a Chef

Get ready to get schooled by one of America's finest chefs. Here's how to make pho right at home.
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If you love Vietnamese food, it's likely that some variation of pho is at the top of your list. How could it not? The umami flavors of the stock paired with the heartiness of the thinly shaved and tender slices of beef make for an irresistible, filling meal. The question is, have you ever felt brave enough to attempt making a bowl right at home? You may be surprised to learn that pho isn't all that challenging to make.

Josh Emett, a Michelin Star chef and co-founder of the Go To Collection Restaurant Group, recently released a new cookbook called The Recipe, a compilation of recipes from 150 of the world's finest chefs. Included in the book is this recipe for Beef Noodle Soup Pho Bo provided by Charles Phan, the owner and executive chef at the Slanted Door in San Francisco, California.

Believe it or not, even a recipe from a renowned chef can be relatively easy to follow.

"I would consider this recipe easy, if you have not made one before, then don't be intimidated as once you follow the steps it is straight forward," says Emett. "Make sure you buy great beef stock and the best produce, and the rest will take care of itself."

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How to make pho like a pro

beef noodle soup recipe by charles phan
Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo) from Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan (Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2012), all rights reserved. Published with permission in The recipe by Josh Emett, image copyright ˝ Kieran E. Scott.Kieran E. Scott
Here is the recipe for Beef Noodle Soup Pho Bo by Charles Phan.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6


1 lb (450 g) beef brisket
3 qt (3 liters) beef stock
Fish sauce for seasoning
1 lb (450 g) packet dried wide rice noodles, cooked according to packet directions
12 oz (340 g) beef top round, thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions/spring onions, trimmed and thinly (about 1 cup/100 g)


1/2 cup (about 12 1/2 g) Thai basil sprigs
1 cup (100 g) mung bean sprouts
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 jalapeño chilies, stemmed and thinly sliced into rings
3 tbsp plus 1 tbsp (50 ml) Sriracha sauce
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp (50 ml) hoisin sauce

Chef Emett's Notes:

  • Prepare the other ingredients while the brisket cooks.
  • Find which way the grain goes on the brisket in order to slice it correctly.

How to make it

  1. Place the brisket in a large pot and add the stock. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then lower the heat until the liquid is at a vigorous simmer. Cook the brisket for 30 to 45 minutes, until cooked through. To check for doneness, remove the brisket from the pot to a plate and poke with the tip of a chopstick; the juices should run clear.
  2. Just before the brisket is ready, prepare an ice-water bath. When the brisket is done, remove it from the pot, reserving the cooking liquid, and immediately submerge it in the ice-water bath, which will stop the cooking and give the meat a firmer texture. When the brisket is completely cool, remove from the water, pat dry, and thinly slice against the grain. Set aside.
  3. Return the stock to the boil over a high heat. Taste for seasoning and add fish sauce if needed.
  4. To ready the garnishes, arrange the basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and jalapeño on a platter and place on the table. Put the Sriracha and hoisin sauces alongside.
  5. Divide the cooked rice noodles evenly between warmed soup bowls. Top with the brisket slices and then with the raw beef slices, dividing them evenly. Ladle the hot stock and over the top, dividing it evenly, and top with the green onions /spring onions. Serve immediately, together with the platter of garnishes.

Eat This! Tip

Want to make pho that's both keto and paleo-friendly? All you have to do is remove the noodles.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne