Gordon's Great Escape

Pho Bo recipe

Pho (pronounced "fuh") is a noodle soup renowned as the national dish of Vietnam. Pho Bo or Beef Pho is the classic, but the chicken version called Pho Ga is also popular. Food blogger MiMi Aye shares her recipes for beef pho

Serves 4-6

Takes 1 hour to prepare, plus 2 hours to cook


For the pho broth

  • 1 kg beef bones (½ oxtail, ½ knuckle with marrow)
  • 500 stewing beef eg brisket
  • 2 white onions, skin on and halved
  • 3-inch knob of ginger, skin on
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 lumps of rock sugar or 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns

For the pho spices

  • 2 sticks of cassia bark or cinnamon
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds

To serve

  • 200g beef sirloin or fillet, sliced super-thin (freeze for 30 mins to ease slicing)
  • 400g thin flat rice noodles (Banh Pho if poss)

To garnish

  • Pack of bean sprouts, washed, topped and tailed
  • 2 white onions, shaved thinly, soaked in cold water for 30 mins then drained
  • Small bunch of spring onions, slivered
  • Sprigs of fresh coriander, mint (and if poss) Thai basil, sawtooth herb
  • Lime wedges
  • Red chillies, sliced
  • Sriracha chilli sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Fish sauce


  1. Toast the pho spices by tossing them in a dry frying pan till fragrant (takes a minute or two). Set the spices to one side.
  2. Char the onions and ginger till the skin blisters and goes black either by sitting them on a foil-lined baking tray and blow-torching / grilling them on high, or by holding directly over a gas flame with tongs (be careful and wear oven gloves).
  3. Let the onions and ginger cool, peel and remove the blackened bits, wash thoroughly and set to one side.
  4. Place the beef bones and stewing beef in a stockpot or large saucepan with two litres of water. Boil briskly for 10 minutes till the scum rises. Discard this water, and rinse the meat and the pot thoroughly.
  5. Place the pot of meat back on the stove. Add the charred onions and ginger, the toasted pho spices and all the other broth ingredients, plus a couple of litres of water – enough that the ingredients are thoroughly submerged.
  6. Boil briskly for 10 minutes, and then simmer for 2 hours, topping up with water if the liquid level ever drops below the ingredients.
  7. Meanwhile, soak the noodles in just-boiled water for 20 minutes and then drain, untangle and set to one side.
  8. When the pho broth is ready, remove the stewing beef, cut it into bite-size pieces and set to one side. Strain the pho broth and discard all the bits, then season it to taste eg more fish sauce or sugar if you think it needs it.
  9. Now you’re ready to dish up. Divide the noodles into 4-6 bowls and top with pieces of stewing beef and slices of raw beef.
  10. Have all the garnishes on the table. Bring the strained pho broth back to a brisk boil and then, while it’s still bubbling, put a few ladlefuls into each bowl so the noodles are swimming and the raw beef slices poach gently.
  11. Hand the bowls round, tell people to help themselves to the garnishes and dig in.

By MiMi Aye, Asian food geek, cook and writer of the blog meemalee's kitchen


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Vietnamese recipes

Vietnamese recipes

Light, flavoursome and bursting with unusual ingredients, Vietnamese cooking is a great chance to give your tongue an education

Friday 13 May 2011
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