Comments on: Crock Pot Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) Steamy Kitchen Food Blog: fast recipes, simple recipes, with fresh ingredients to create delicious meals. Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:52:26 +0000 hourly 1 By: Monique Wed, 24 Jun 2015 07:22:04 +0000 Re: the grease

My mom taught me a cool trick. Once your stock has cooled, put it in a large bowl in the fridge over night and in the morning it will all be hard and yellowish on top. Grab a spoon and scrap it off. Everything under should be a brown jelly and that will be your stock.

By: Jason Sun, 03 May 2015 21:00:41 +0000 Great comments Xi Yu. I was wondering why I couldn’t get that “restaurant flavor” in my soup. Great pointers, much appreciated.

By: Jaden Wed, 22 Apr 2015 12:48:47 +0000 Hi Trisha – great idea!

By: Trisha Tue, 21 Apr 2015 20:31:57 +0000 I use a knife to scrape the marrow out of the beef bone before pre-boiling them to eliminate lots of the greasiness. I double the bone portion and cook them in the large 20 quart electric turkey oven roaster to stock up extra broth for the freezer.

By: Xi Yu Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:02:15 +0000 Hi, Love the site! Great resource.

The recipe is one of the best on the western internet. It’s got it’s pitfalls and falls prey to the same problems all other pho recipes in English I can find. It refuses to acknowledge that every pho restaurant you’ve ever eaten at or want to eat at uses huge, huge doses of msg or bouillon to enhance their stock. One of Quoc Viet’s (the pho soup base manufacturer) largest N.A. customers is Pho Saigon – a very large pho and Vietnamese cuisine chain.

So the distinction must be made between MSG-free homemade pho, and restaurant pho. Once you come to terms and make peace with that distinction, you’ll either start ladling teaspoons of MSG into into your bowl before you pour in your broth, or you’ll add one of the reputable restaurant pho bouillon packs right in your stock. To be clear: THAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO ACHIEVE RESTAURANT-STYLE PHO.

If you decide on the more vigilant path, that’s commendable. But it’s also an endeavor that will leave your dinner guests and family questioning if you missed a step, or forgot an ingredient (btw, it’s MSG). I know. Sacrifices. I’m not going to get whether MSG is good or bad for you. I’m just leaving my thoughts on pho broth here.

Greasy Stock?:

Stop using so many femur bones chocked full of marrow. Many say marrow is where the “flavor” comes from. False. It’s got plenty of flavor, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also so ridiculously fatty and so chocked full of tallow that any flavor you’d reap from it is overshadowed by a thick layer of beef fat. Have you ever been to one of those fancy restaurants and they serve you roasted leg bones and you scoop out the marrow and spread it on bread with salt and capers? That’s what marrow tastes like. Is that taste profile an essential part of a delicate bowl of pho? Absolutely not, imo. To an entire pot, I usually limit femur (leg) bone to 1 x 4-5 inch section…that comes in the form of one small beef shank, cut into 1 inch cross sections. Then it’s neck and chuck roast which has the shoulder bone intact, and oxtail for gelatin and mouth feel. Brisket and Cheek for more beefy flavor without the fat.

-Skim fat at the very end of the stock making session, or at the very beginning. Whoever tells you fat can be reconstituted into water does not know about fluid density. Unless you’re planning on adding an emulsifier, the fat will eventually ALWAYS separate…no matter how much you stir it (and we don’t stir pho stock). So there’s no point in skimming during your cook time. Do it at the end. Hell, do it a day later.


10 minutes is way, way too short. My grandmother par boils her stocks (albeit for Chinese hotpot) for at least 30 minutes if not longer, AFTER she soaks her bones in cold water in the fridge for at least 12 hours. We can debate the merits of the soak, but here is the lowdown on parboiling:

-It has to be a very aggressive boil. Like..water threatening to geyser out of the pot. The agitation loosens the proteins deeper in the tissues.
-Stir every few minutes so that bone fragments don’t settle at the bottom of the pot and burn (since it’s assumed you’ll be on very high heat)
-Before you stir, skim the foam that collects at the top (be careful not to stir the foam back into the stock)
-Here’s what you’re looking for: Grey, nasty scum in the first 10-15 minutes will give way to greyish, lighter colored scum by the halfway marker, and at 30 minutes you’ll have white-ish scum only. Reduce the flame and allow for the white scum to collect (this scum is more delicate, so you should not boil it hard, otherwise it’ll reincorporate into the stock). By minute 45, assuming you have done everything right, you will not see too much scum anymore, but instead, layers of fat start pooling on top of your stock. This is the stop point. 45 minutes. You standing next to the pot, stirring every 5-10 minutes, skimming every 3-5. This is where you live.

If you’re unwilling to do this, then the question of how “good” pho can be made at home should not enter your mind. You should be blissfully happy knowing the cooks at your local pho eatery are doing things like this for you all at the bargain price of under 10 dollars per bowl.


-After pre boiling and washing bones, and adding toasted or charred spices, the pot should never EVER come back to a rolling boil again. If you’ve accidentally boiled it, you risk muddy stock. Slow cooker works for this pretty well.
-On stove top, you just have to pay attention. Never stir it either. Just leave it alone. The only reason a pair of tongs should enter the pot is to get the meat out (which will finish faster than the stock). So it would stand to reason that you’d layer the edible portion (cheek, flank, brisket, tendon, etc) on top of the inedible portions (femur, neck, chuck shoulder, oxtails). At the 2 hour mark, check edibles for doneness, and take them out, without disturbing the bones on the bottom.
-At the four hour mark, your spices and onions and ginger and such have given it their all. Trust me. You’re not going to get any more mileage out of them, that you can’t re-infuse with a fresh dose before serving, using freshly toasted spices and ginger to “wake the stock up”.
-Run through cheese cloth at the end. Then run it through again.


Two camps on this. Some restaurants add all the salt, msg, fish sauce into dry bowls before they put in hot noodles, and then pour the broth over the entire thing. This ensures you have some control over salt in each service unit. Bigger bowl, more salt, etc. Why risk oversalting a broth and having to dilute it or under seasoning a broth to have to play trial and error at the end anyways? Seasoning a dry bowl ensures your mistakes are confined to a single bowl. Your broth is unsullied, your embarrassment confined.

Very experienced pho cooks have very experienced pho palates. They can probably do it the old fashioned way. Seasoning, and tasting in the last few minutes or hours in an entire pot. Not to mention most pho cooks in the USA know inherently that their patrons will indiscriminately just dump a bunch of hoisin sauce into the broth. So they err on the bland side for good reason.

Jennifer, I’m sorry for this extremely long post about a seemingly good recipe. I just feel there is so much misdirection and smoke and mirrors about this food out there..that someone needed to at least say something.

As for credibility, I have none. I’ve been a Chinese cook my whole life (the fundamentals of Chinese and Vietnamese broth making are all basically similar)…but the first time I tried to make tasted like restaurant pho…The more pho recipes I read on the internet, the more confused I got. My second bowl of pho was much worse than my first. For what it’s worth.


By: Montessori Mama Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:26:39 +0000 I live in Saigon and love a good bowl of pho. Sadly, the best ever pho I’ve had was back in Australia at my Vietnamese mother-in-law’s house. I’ve tried hundreds of bowls in Vietnam and none are as good. I’ve tried to recreate her pho at home but it’s so time consuming. I’d thought about doing it in the crockpot but wasn’t sure it would work well. I’ll be trying your crockpot method out ASAP. Thanks for the great idea.

By: Teresa Sat, 28 Feb 2015 18:49:35 +0000 I’m going to try your recipe! However, I have one great tip for making “liquid gold” bone broth: instead of pre-boiling the bones, ROAST the bones in the oven. Roast them at 400deg for at least an hour. Remove the rendered fat. When they are done roasting and you add the bones to water to make your broth, just skim off the foam. Do not throw out the water like you have been doing with your first boiling, you are losing precious nutrition and taste! Simmer bones for 8-12 hours.

By: SteamyKitchen Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:52:21 +0000 Hi Jennifer,

Fill water below the surface edge of the pot.

Sure, you can use pork bones, but it won’t be Pho. But I’m sure it will be tasty – a lighter taste.

Beef bones are heavy, much heavier than pork bones, so that’s why the recipe calls for 4 pounds of bones.

Use whatever bones you have, as long as you have about 2 pounds, that should be fine. You’ll adjust seasoning at the end with fish sauce – you’ll probably use more fish sauce since you have fewer bones. But just add tablespoon by tablespoon until the broth tastes good. :-)

By: Jennifer Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:17:10 +0000 Also another thing. I just realized that this calls for 4 pounds of bones. We are a small family and wouldn’t generate that much bones in one meal. How do you feel about collecting the bones and then freezing them for use later?

By: Jennifer Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:13:22 +0000 I’m not sure what you mean by below surface when you say “Fill the Crock Pot with fresh, clean, cool water to just 1-1/2 inches below surface” are you referring to the below the stuff in the crockpot? I guess all the vegetables will cook down a bit? Do you think this would work with pork bones? I accidentally bought a pork roast and I cooked it last night. I was thinking that maybe I could use the bones the same way you have described here for this recipe. What do you think?