Heartwarming Oxtail Pho

October 25, 2021
0 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Nothing beats a giant steaming bowl of pho on a fall day. Slippery rice noodles, rich, succulent braised oxtail, and an anise-coriander-scented broth make for a mouthwatering meal. —stephanie le

Test Kitchen Notes

Pho, a Vietnamese soup that's traditionally made with meat, rice noodles, and lots of herbs, is comfort food in a bowl, perfect for chilly temps and those short winter nights. The dish has got so much flavor and can be made at home, though it's ideal for a weekend project since it needs to hang out overnight for the best results. This version uses oxtail pieces as a base, spices like coriander, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon, as well as all the garnishes you could possibly ask for. Making pho is the best and most fun way to build your own soup. After you make the stock, the rest is a breeze. Simply cook the noodles and then choose your favorite toppings. In this recipe, we suggest go-to toppings like scallions, cilantro, red chiles, basil, limes, and sauces, but you can use anything from tofu, bok choy, fennel, bean sprouts, mint, etc. Just be sure to keep the broth that you worked so hard on as the star of the dish.

After charring the onions and ginger and toasting the spices, the rest of the cook time is pretty hands off. Just bring the meat, veggies, charred aromatics, and toasted spices to a boil, then simmer for as long as you can. The developer recommends about 4 hours for the broth to sufficiently reduce. It's much easier to make than you think, and you'll come back to this recipe again and again every time you're craving a bowl of rich noodle soup. —The Editors

What You'll Need
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Heartwarming Oxtail Pho
  • Oxtail Stock
  • 2 onions, halved
  • 1 (3- to 4-inch) piece ginger
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 pounds oxtail
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 small daikon, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) sugar
  • Pho Assembly
  • 1 pound dried or fresh pho noodles
  • Sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, chopped red chiles, chopped Thai basil, lime wedges, hoisin sauce, and/or Sriracha, for serving
  1. Heat the broiler. On a rimmed baking sheet, broil the onion and ginger until the onions are sweaty and everything is nicely charred. Peel the onions and ginger; set aside.
  2. In a small dry pan over low heat, toast the coriander, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, until aromatic. Tie the spices up in cheesecloth for easy removal.
  3. Fill a large pot with cold water, add the oxtail, and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes to force the scum and impurities out. Drain, rinse the oxtails, and wash out the pot.
  4. Fill the same pot with about 5 quarts of water and add the oxtail, onion, ginger, spice packet, carrot, and daikon. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a very gentle simmer. Simmer for as long as you can; reducing will intensify the flavor. I let my broth simmer for about 4 hours until the liquid reduced to about 3 quarts. At this point, take out the oxtails and set aside for serving. Strain the stock into a new clean pot; discard the solids. Let cool before storing in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. The next day, a large amount of fat will have coagulated on the top of the stock. Skim and discard. Gently heat the stock; stir in the fish sauce and sugar. Taste and season as needed, then bring the stock to a rolling boil.
  6. Prepare the noodles according to the package, strain, and divide the noodles among bowls. Add a generous amount of oxtail meat (the stock will heat the meat up) and top with the stock. Garnish and enjoy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nancy Z Sharkey
    Nancy Z Sharkey
  • stephanie le
    stephanie le
  • Tasty McNoms
    Tasty McNoms
Obsessed with food, photography, good design, potatoes and noodles. Recipes and ramblings at My first book, Easy Gourmet is coming out September 2nd, 2014 and is available for preorder on Amazon!

3 Reviews

Nancy Z. December 21, 2021
This recipe makes an incredible broth! Very delicious and authentic! Highly recommend.
Tasty M. December 21, 2014
I assume you're supposed to add the carrot and daikon during the broth simmering stage? The directions don't mention those ingredients at all.
stephanie L. December 21, 2014
whoops! yes, i've added it in - thanks!