Note: When Sacramento restaurateur and cookbook author Mai Pham and her family arrived in the United States in 1975 after the fall of Saigon, beef noodle soup (pho bo) was one of the things they desperately missed. In Vietnam, steaming bowls of pho were a part of daily life. In their early days in the U.S., she and her family ate pho whenever they could find it--whether it was particularly good or not--because it was a taste of home.

Now authentic recipes have been dusted off and noodle shops serving pho have proliferated throughout the U.S., particularly where there are sizable Asian communities. Pham's story on pho in July sparked an incredible response from readers--those for whom pho is an integral part of their lives and those who had never tasted it but were so charmed by Pham's story and her recipes that they had to try it right away.

You can prepare the broth early in the day and assemble the dish just before serving. Make sure the bowls are preheated before using. Vietnamese cooks are very particular about making sure the broth comes out as clear as possible. This is why the roast and bones are brought to a boil, then transferred to a new pot of boiling water: The solids released from the initial boil are discarded with the first batch of water. If the onion begins to break up and muddy the broth before the recipe calls for it to be removed, take it out of the pot. And be sure to remove the spice bag before it starts to darken the broth or overpower the flavor.



1 (2-pound) chuck roast

5 pounds beef marrow bones

2 (4-inch) pieces ginger root, unpeeled

1 large brown onion, peeled

1/3 cup fish sauce

5 tablespoons sugar

6 star anise

3 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon salt


1/2 pound beef sirloin steak, slightly frozen