How To Make Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

How To Make Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
  • Serves: 6
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 9 hours (slow cooker)
  • 3 hours (stovetop)
  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • 1 x 6 cm (2½ in) piece ginger
  • 2 white onions
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 black cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beef brisket
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beef shin, cut into small pieces – ask the butcher to do this
  • 60 g (2¼ oz) yellow rock sugar or brown sugar
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) fish sauce
  • 300 g (10½ oz) beef sirloin, very thinly sliced
  • rice noodles, herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges and red chilli, to serve

In the slow cooker

Roast the garlic, ginger and onions (all left unpeeled) over an open flame for 10 minutes until completely blackened.

Alternatively, cook under a hot grill (broiler) for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and, when they are cool enough to handle, peel and roughly chop.

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and toast the cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, fennel seeds and peppercorns until fragrant.

Transfer to a small piece of muslin and tie with string to make a pouch.

Put the beef brisket and shin, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, onions, spice pouch, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) of water into the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 9 hours until the meat is tender. Remove the beef brisket and shin and when it is cool enough to handle, thinly slice the brisket and shred the shin.

Strain the soup through a large fine sieve lined with muslin. Place the sirloin in warmed bowls, then pour over the hot stock.

Serve with noodles, herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges and chilli.

On the stovetop

Roast the garlic, ginger and onions (all left unpeeled) over an open flame for 10 minutes until completely blackened.

Alternatively, cook under a hot grill (broiler) for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and, when they are cool enough to handle, peel and roughly chop.

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and toast the cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, fennel seeds and peppercorns until fragrant.

Transfer to a small piece of muslin and tie with string to make a pouch.

Put the beef brisket and shin, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2.5 litres (87 fl oz/10 cups) of water into a large heavy-based saucepan.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Add the sugar, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, onions and spice pouch to the pan and return to a simmer over medium heat.

Reduce the heat to a low, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours until the meat is tender.

Remove the beef brisket and shin and when it is cool enough to handle, thinly slice the brisket and shred the shin.

Strain the soup through a large fine sieve lined with muslin.

Place the sirloin in warmed bowls, then pour over the hot stock. Serve with noodles, herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges and chilli.