Oxtail pho may not be the most common way to make a homemade beef pho here in North America, but it is one of the more traditional variations.
And in case you are not familiar with oxtail, it is indeed pieces of a cow’s tail. There is quite a bit of meat on them, and it can be a whole different taste to your pho. See if your local butcher carries oxtail. If not, you may have to stick with the usual leg bones and meat for your beef pho.
You’ll need to leave the stock overnight, so make sure you leave plenty of time to prepare your oxtail pho. Needless to say, it’s worth the wait.
- 1 3inch chunk of fresh ginger
- 2 small onions, cut in half
- 1 tsp whole coriander seed
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 4 whole star anise stars
- 2 lbs oxtail
- 5 quarts water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 2 tbs sugar
- 16 oz pkg of rice noodles
- Sliced scallions
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Sliced chili peppers
- Lime wedges
- Fresh basil leaves
- Hoisin sauce
To get the best flavor for your oxtail pho, you should char the ginger and onion chunks before you begin. In a pan over medium-heat, toast up the coriander, cloves and anise pieces until they start to give off all their aromas and flavors. Set that aside for now and start with the oxtail.
In a large stock pot, boil the oxtail pieces in water at a hard boil for at least 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain. Rinse off the meat and put it back in the pot with a fresh 5 quarts of water. Add in the ginger, onions, toasted spices, and cinnamon stick. Bring it all to a boil, then turn down the heat to keep it on simmer. Let it continue slowing cooking like this for 4 or even 5 hours.
Take out the oxtails, then strain out the spices and other bits from your broth. Put the stock in the fridge overnight to let the fat collect on the top. At this point, you can shred the meat off the oxtail bones, and pop that in the fridge too (the meat, not the bones). If your pieces of oxtail are small enough, you can just leave the meat on the bones and serve it that way. That would be the more traditional method. But most people find eating off the bones awkward in soup, so shredded the meat off will make things easier.
When you are ready to make up your pho, take everything out of the fridge and get started. Skim all the fat off the pho broth and heat it back up to a simmer. At this point, add in the fish sauce and sugar (yes, it needs to be left until the end). Heat up to a hot boil while you cook the noodles in another pot.
The noodles should soften up quickly. Divide them up between 4 bowls, top with some of the shredded oxtail meat, and pour piping hot pho broth into each bowl. This will warm the meat up right away, and you can serve with a platter of garnishes.