Saturday, February 23, 2013

Recipe: Oxtail Pho

Let's take a break from makeup and venture to the culinary side of this blog.  After all, my two greatest loves after my family (which includes my beloved pug!) and friends are makeup and food.  Anyone who knows me knows I had ZERO interest in food until 2011.  I had even less interest in COOKING food, let alone eating it.  

Once my interest was kindled, I initially embraced cooking anything except for Asian food.  Growing up with a fantastic home cook known as my mother, Asian food was plentiful in our household.  My mother cooked everyday.  I suppose you can say I took Asian food for granted.  However, I tended to veer towards French, Italian, and Western food because the challenge of plating French, Italian, and Western food was greater than Asian food.  I suppose my interest in plating (aka the aesthetics of the culinary world) originated from my love for makeup: make the object of your work pretty!

Anyway, starting July 2012, a friend of mine (ahem, the fanstic personality from Insatiably Epicurious) pushed me to reconnect to Asian food.  I have a new found appreciation for Asian food that is fostered by my mother and gal pal from Insatiably Epicurious.

To start the first of a series of recipes, here is an ode to a Vietnamese staple: Oxtail Pho.

2 stock pots

10 pounds of oxtail
2 -3 yellow onions UNPEELED
(2) 4-inch pieces of fresh ginger, UNPEELED
1 daikon
10 toasted star anise
12 toasted cloves
2 toasted cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp toasted fennel seeds
2 tbsp toasted coriander seeds
2 toasted cardamom pods
1/2 cup fish sauce
2-3 chunks of yellow rock sugar
optional: tendon, tripe - amount to your desire

Place star anise, cloves, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods into a cheese cloth after you toast them

1. Turn on oven broiler.  Half the onions and ginger.  Place onions and ginger onto a cookie sheet and slide sheet under broiler.  (The purpose of halving them is so that they don't roll around under the broiler).  Broil for 15 minutes, making sure the onion and ginger becomes charred.  After 15 minutes, remove with tongs and rinse onion and ginger under warm running water.  Rub off the charred skin.  Trim and discard the blackened root and stem ends.  Peel ginger skin.  Make sure all blackened spots are cleaned off.  Bruise the charred ginger lightly with broad side of a knife.  Set onion and ginger aside.

2. Parboil the oxtail.  I chose to follow a parboil instruction I found from Insatiably Epicurious' blog: Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the bones/meat.  Throw in a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and let it boil for about 3 minutes to release impurities.  While you wait for the stock pot to boil, place another 12 qt stock pot into the sink.  Put a colander on top and put a cheesecloth into the colander.  Pour stockpot of bones into the empty stockpot through the cheese clothed colander.  Thoroughly rinse the bones with water to remove any clinging residue. 

3.  Add enough water into the 2nd stock pot that is now containing the bones and bone water to nearly fill 3/4 of the 12 quart stock pot. (Add tendon and or tripe in this step)  Bring to boil over high heat then simmer.  Using ladle, skim off scum.  Add onions, ginger, and cheese cloth full of herbs, fish sauce, and rock sugar.  Simmer uncovered for 3 hours.

4.  Taste to ensure the broth is seasoned to desire.  Season using fish sauce and or rock sugar to your desired taste.

5.  Strain broth through cheese clothed colander over 1st stock pot (which now should be cleaned).  Discard remaining solids.  Use ladle to skim off fat OR cool broth and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, lift off solidified fat and reheat to continue.

Assembly: (simmer broth while you are assembling the bowls)

pho noodles
sliced ribeye
1 yellow onion, sliced paper thin, soaked in cold water
3 or 4 scallions, thinly sliced (I prefer to slice them diagonally because it's more aesthetically pleasing to me)
pepper (I prefer white pepper)

1. Boil pot of water.  Put pho noodles in for about 5 seconds using a strainer, swirling noodles entire time to prevent clinging.  Alternatively, place pho noodles into a strainer that will fit in your pot of boiling water and submerge.  Remove the noodles and make sure water is drained before placing into a big bowl.

2. Top each bowl of noodles with the raw sliced ribeye (and tendon and or tripe).  Place a mound of yellow onion in the center and garnish diced scallions on top.  Finish with a sprinkle of pepper.

4. Increase the heat of the broth and bring to a ROLLING boil.  You want it HOT for each bowl so that it cooks the raw beef.  Ladle broth into each bowl making sure it distributes over the raw beef.  Serve immediately.

Garnish with Thai basil, culantro, bean sprouts, Thai or Serrano chiles (thinly sliced), hoisin sauce, and or sriracha sauce.  Squeeze lime juice.

Bon Appetit!


  1. I am assuming you are referring to my outrage that you took the orgasmic flavors and herbs of your home country, for granted. But since you finally posted the pho recipe, you are forgiven ;)

  2. Drool!! how many servings does this make?

  3. Or about 10-12 really greedy people =)

  4. Throw in some daikon radish chunks to help soak up the black stuff and sweeten your broth. Looking forward to trying this when the weather gets cold. Thank you for sharing! Jo

  5. I was taught to parboil the bones but we didn't use cheesecloth so the first broth was always sacrificed for broth clarity. Thanks for the idea. I strained the broth today and was able to preserve a lot of nutrients mommy and Chipi need to cure our cold. Yum...

    1. your hubby must be very happy to have pho in the house