9 November 2022

I’m in love with Pho and also have an ongoing bromance with Luke Nguyen. It’s natural that I combine them both. I’m tempted to call this dish a phomance but that would be plain crazy.

This is an adaptation of Luke Nguyen’s recipe for Pho stock. The stock is best served in a bowl with rice noodles and thinly sliced beef but also works well as a soup with some shredded chicken or winter vegetables.

2kg oxtail, cut into 3-4cm pieces
4 tablespoons salt
1 unpeeled garlic bulb
3 large unpeeled brown onions
8cm unpeeled ginger
¾ cup fish sauce
80g rock sugar
Spice pouch:
½ tbsp coriander seeds
½ tbsp cumin
½ tbsp fennel seeds
8 whole cloves
5 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1x square piece muslin cloth

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Soak oxtail in cold water and 3 tablespoons of the salt for at least 1 hour. This draws out the blood from the bones. The water will change colour after the hour. Drain well and discard the water.

Meanwhile, dry toast the ingredients of the spice pouch until fragrant. Carefully transfer the toasted spice on the muslin cloth, gather the cloth and secure it with a string.

Place the onions, garlic and ginger on a tray and roast for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then peel any blackened skin off the onions, garlic and ginger. Roughly chop and set aside.

Place oxtail and 6 litres of cold water in a large pot and bring to boil, regularly skimming off impurities that float to the surface. Once the water comes to boil, add the fish sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon of salt, onions, garlic, ginger, rock sugar and spice pouch.

Simmer gently, with the lid slightly ajar, for 5 hours.

Strain the stock and it is now ready for use.

As a serving suggestion, place a handful of cooked rice noodles in a bowl. Top with ½ cup of shredded poached chicken. Ladle a generous amount of hot stock then garnish with some beansprouts and Vietnamese mint.