27 essential Western dishes

Taste local flavor in every bite of these star recipes that define the West

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Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)
Photo by Annabelle Breakey

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)

Pho, the beloved meat-and-noodle soup of Vietnam, has firmly established itself in the United States—particularly in the West, where large numbers of Vietnamese have settled. Pho originated in Hanoi at the turn of the last century. In those early days, it was a beef broth embellished only with noodles and sliced beef. As it spread to South Vietnam, pho took on spices and herbs and other ingredients—and it’s this bounteous style of pho that crossed the ocean to the United States, brought by immigrants fleeing the fall of Saigon in 1975.


  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 3 star anise pods (or 2 tsp. pieces) or 1 tsp. anise seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 in. long)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boned beef chuck, fat trimmed
  • 2 1/2 qts. beef broth
  • About 1/4 cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cups bean sprouts (5 to 6 oz.), rinsed
  • 1/4 cup very thinly sliced red or green chiles, such as Thai, serrano, or jalapeño
  • 1/2 cup Thai or small regular basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 lb. boned beef sirloin steak, fat trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 6 cups cooked rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • Hoisin sauce and Asian red chili paste or sauce (optional)
1. Wrap ginger, shallots, star anise, and cinnamon stick in two layers of cheesecloth (about 17 in. square); tie with heavy cotton string. Combine beef chuck, broth, 2 1/2 qts. water, 1/4 cup fish sauce, sugar, and spice bundle in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat; uncover, reduce heat, and simmer until beef is tender when pierced, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.

2. Transfer meat to a board with a slotted spoon. Remove and discard spice bundle. Skim and discard fat from broth. Add salt and more fish sauce to taste. Return broth to a simmer.

3. Meanwhile, arrange bean sprouts, sliced chiles, basil, cilantro, and lime wedges on a platter. When beef chuck is cool enough to handle, thinly slice across the grain.

4. Immerse sliced sirloin in simmering broth (use a wire basket or strainer, if available) and cook just until brown on the outside but still pink in the center, 30 seconds to 1 minute; lift out (with basket or a slotted spoon).

5. Mound hot noodles in deep bowls (at least 3-cup capacity). Top with beef chuck, sirloin, and onions. Ladle broth over portions to cover generously.

6. Serve with platter of accompaniments and hoisin sauce and chili paste (if using) to add to taste.


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