In an attempt to connect to the Vietnamese side of my family, I've studied my mother's pho, or Vietnamese noodle soup, to come up with my own. It may not be authentic (as in, prepared by a full-blooded Vietnamese), but its intentions are good. —Furey and the Feast
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Furey & the Feast is a food blogger, writer and copy editor hailing from Southern California. Her food is often inspired by her Italian and Vietnamese roots, and is always hunger-inducing.
WHAT: A perfectly rich and layered version of pho.
HOW: A straightforward beef bone-based broth is the foundation of Furey & the Feast's noodle soup. It is made deeply aromatic by the addition of charred ginger and onions, a cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, and fish sauce .
WHY WE LOVE IT: Whether or not this dish recalls childhood memories as it does for Furey, it's as flavorful and soul-feeding as any chicken noodle we've ever encountered.
Over the open flame of a burner, char onion and ginger halves until fragrant and blackened.
In a 10 to 12-quart stockpot, place beef bones, onion, ginger and oxtail. Cover with 5 quarts of cold water (bones should be completely covered. If not, add more water).
Bring beef bones and water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, skimming all impurities from bones that float to the surface.
Add cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, fish sauce and sugar to broth. Continue to simmer for another 1-1/2 to 2 hours, skimming surface of broth as needed.
Taste broth. Depending on how much marrow is in the bones you use, you may need to simmer for longer and reduce the liquid to get that full-bodied beef taste. Remove bones and spices from broth. Season with salt and pepper.
(This is an optional step.) When broth is to your liking, cool broth and place in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, take pot out of fridge and skim fat off of surface of broth.
To assemble: Reheat broth to a boil. Soak pho noodles in a bowl of water until soft. Drain.
Heat water in a 4- to 5-quart pot. When water comes to a boil, add soaked noodles. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until noodles are soft. Drain, and portion noodles into bowls.
Place thinly sliced raw tenderloin on top of noodles. Ladle broth over meat and noodles. Top with garnishes and serve hot.