“Pho is a celebrated Vietnamese broth made from roasted bones, which is well flavoured and therapeutic to slurp. I’m serving mine with seared skirt steak, brined garlic slices, lots of fresh herbs, sprouts and rice noodles. The soup was first recorded in the early 1900s, when Vietnam was a French colony. Some say that ‘pho’ comes from the French ‘pot-au-feu’, while others think it was Chinese vendors yelling out ‘meat and noodles’, elongating the last word, ‘phan’, which sounded like pho. Ultimately, it’s all about depth of flavour from the broth, embellished with lots of fresh goodies. ”
Bash and crack the ginger and place in a very large casserole pan with the beef bones, cinnamon, cloves and star anise.
Drizzle with sesame oil and roast for 2 hours, then transfer the pan to the hob over a medium heat and cover the bones with 3.5 litres of water.
Bash the lemongrass and add along with the soy and fish sauces, then simmer on a low heat for 2 hours. Skim off any fat from the surface and discard (if you make the broth in advance and let it cool, the fat will solidify on the top and will be super-easy to remove).
To make the brined garlic, simply peel and finely slice the garlic and put into a little dish with the sugar and a good pinch of sea salt. Stir in a couple of splashes of boiling water from the kettle, followed by the vinegar (it’s a nice condiment to spoon over the steak, and adds an extra edge to the broth).
Cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions and divide between 6 bowls.
Pick the mint and coriander leaves, then trim the spring onions, peel the onion and finely slice both with the chillies. Cut the limes into wedges. Place it all on a big serving platter with the bean sprouts and take to the table with the noodle bowls.
Place a frying pan on a high heat and, once screaming hot, season the skirt steak, pat with groundnut oil, then sear, turning every minute, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until medium-rare (depending on the thickness of your steak). You want it medium-rare, because when you pour the hot broth over the top it will gently cook it through, should you want it to.
Remove to a board to rest, then slice up finely and take to the table along with the pan of broth.
Get everyone to pimp their own bowls with all the bits and pieces, then pour over some ladlefuls of hot broth. Serve with bottles of hot chilli sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce on the side to perfect the broth to taste.