Pho bo is a national dish with international influence easy enough to make all your own.

A hearty noodle dish perfect for warming away shivers on a winter’s day, yet somehow refreshing enough to enjoy in summer, pho bo is the epitome of Vietnamese comfort food. Found on almost every street corner and simmered in nearly every home, its complex flavors vary from cook to cook but its pleasant blend of herbs, spices and unique textures never disappoints.

From Pot Au Feu to Pho Bo

Pho bo may be Vietnam’s widely popular national dish, but if the French hadn’t colonized the country in the late 19th century, it may never have come into existence! You see, before the French arrived, the Vietnamese did not use cattle as food. Cows were merely beasts of burden. However, the French were accustomed to using beef in their recipes. It is even said that the dish’s name, “pho,” may have been derived from the French word for fire, “feu,” as in pot au feu, leading many to believe the noodle dish is a Vietnamese adaptation of this similarly cooked French stew.

The Vietnamese Lo Mein

Noodles, ginger and anise may also have been introduced by the Chinese. Considered the Vietnamese answer to “lo mein,” the Vietnamese created pho bo with similar noodles and a combination of aromatic flavors that has delighted people across the world ever since.

Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or making a week’s worth of lunches, pho bo is a simply prepared dish worth the simmering time for maximum flavor.


  • 2 lbs. 3 oz. Beef Bones
  • 10½ Cup Water/beef stock (about 2 ½ cartons stock)
  • 4 tsp. Fish Sauce
  • 3 tsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 6 TBS and 2 tsp. Garlic
  • 6 TBS and 2 tsp. Ginger
  • 5 pcs Star Anise
  • 2 pcs Cinnamon Sticks (broken into pieces)
  • 1/3 Cup and 4¼ tsp. Onion
  • 1/3 Cup and 4¼ tsp. Carrot
  • 1/2 lb. 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)

Preperation Method

Sauté the carrots and onion with the star anise, ginger, cinnamon and garlic. Caramelize nicely until golden brown, then add the water/beef stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours. Leave to cool, then strain off the stock. Add fish sauce, sugar and salt. Correct the seasoning to taste. Makes approximately 6 servings.

Condiments and Garnish for Soup

  • Thick Rice Noodles (Cooked)
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Long Leaves (Vietnamese Mint, Perilla Leaves)
  • Lime
  • Red Chili Finely Chopped
  • Lettuce (Iceberg)
  • Sweet Basil/Hot Basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Sliced Onion

Preparation Method with Beef

Mix all ingredients into the soup and stir together. Divide noodles among 6 serving bowls and top with sirloin. Pour hot broth over the top. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes until the beef is partially cooked and no longer pink, and the flavors are infused. Serve with bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime wedges, hoisin sauce, and chili -garlic sauce on the side.

Prepare this delicious Vietnamese noodle dish during the winter or summer. Learn more about our Asia river cruises here.

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