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Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup with Ginger

In Vietnam, pho, as this rice-noodle soup is known, is often enjoyed for breakfast. Nutritionists recommend incorporating red meat into one's diet just as it's used here -- in small portions and as a complement to other foods. The soup also includes bean sprouts and a handful of fresh herbs. The stock needs to be refrigerated for at least six hours; make it a day ahead.

  • servings: 4
Photography: James Baigrie

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Ingredients

For the Stock

  • 8 whole star anise
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 piece (4 inches) peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 medium onions, halved
  • 4 pounds oxtail, rinsed thoroughly
  • 6 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces, plus 4 thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

For the Soup

  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 8 ounces eye of round or sirloin of beef
  • 8 ounces thin rice noodles (rice-stick)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup fresh bean sprouts

For the Garnish

  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lime, quartered

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Make stock: Heat star anise, cinnamon, and cloves in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a 6-quart stockpot.

  2. Step 2

    Preheat broiler. Broil ginger and onions, flipping once, until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to pot. Add oxtail, 2-inch scallion pieces, and peppercorns. Add 5 quarts water; bring to a boil. Skim foam. Add salt. Reduce heat. Simmer, skimming occasionally, 2 1/2 hours.

  3. Step 3

    Pour stock through a large sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Let cool 20 minutes. Pour through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large bowl. Refrigerate, covered, 6 hours or overnight.

  4. Step 4

    Make soup: Chill beef in freezer until firm, about 2 hours. Cover noodles with cold water. Let stand until noodles are softened, about 30 minutes; drain.

  5. Step 5

    Cut beef in half. Place each half flat side down, and cut beef against the grain as thinly as possible. Allow beef to warm to room temperature.

  6. Step 6

    Skim fat from stock; discard. Transfer stock to a pot; add shallots, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until shallots are soft, about 15 minutes.

  7. Step 7

    Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until just tender, about 10 seconds; drain.

  8. Step 8

    Divide noodles, beef, and sprouts among 4 bowls. Add simmering stock (it will cook beef gently). Top with thinly sliced scallions and herbs; serve each with a lime wedge.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, April 2005

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Reviews (2)

  • 10 Jan, 2011

    I sub shank for oxtail, and I found whole star anise in a small cello package under the Badia brand, which in my store, has it's own little spices section near the produce. I love this soup, but use sirloin sliced VERY thinly, as I personally find the round to be tougher and have less flavor.

  • 28 Feb, 2009

    What can substitute for oxtail. Where can I find star anise--not available in this area. Thanks.