Beef noodle soup with rice noodles

Beef noodle soup with rice noodles

The Food of Vietnam
Alan Benson


Quantity Ingredient
2kg oxtail, chopped by your butcher into 3 cm pieces
4 tablespoons sea salt
4 large onions, unpeeled
150g fresh ginger, unpeeled
1kg beef brisket
190ml fish sauce
80g rock sugar
1.6kg fresh rice noodles, at room temperature (about 200g per person)
400g trimmed beef sirloin, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, sliced
coriander sprigs, to garnish
2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges

Spice pouch

Quantity Ingredient
8 cloves
5 star anise
2 cassia bark sticks, each about 10 cm in length
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
40 cm square muslin


  1. Put the oxtail in a large saucepan and pour in enough cold water to submerge it. Add 3 tablespoons of the salt. Soak for 1 hour, then drain.
  2. To prepare the spice pouch, dry roast each spice separately in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Allow the spices to cool, then coarsely grind using a mortar and pestle. Add the ground spices to the muslin square and tie up tightly in a knot. Set aside.
  3. Heat a barbecue grill or chargill pan over medium–high heat. Cook the onions and ginger for 15 minutes, turning regularly, until blackened on all sides. Allow to cool, peel off and discard the blackened skins, then roughly chop.
  4. Put the oxtail, brisket and 6 litres cold water in a stockpot and bring to the boil. While the stock is boiling, constantly skim any impurities off the surface for 15 minutes, to ensure a clean, clear broth, then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  5. Add the fish sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon salt, the rock sugar, onions, ginger and spice pouch. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, or until the stock has reduced to almost half.
  6. Strain the stock through a muslin cloth. Remove the brisket, set aside to cool, then thinly slice.
  7. Blanch each portion of noodles in a saucepan of simmering water for 5 seconds. Drain, then transfer to serving bowls.
  8. Place three or four slices of brisket on top of the noodles, followed by three or four slices of raw sirloin. Pour over the hot stock to cover the noodles and beef.
  9. Garnish each bowl with some spring onion, a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and a coriander sprig. At the table, add the chilli and a squeeze of lime.
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