52 weeks of cooking – Stocks and Broths

There are two parts to a good Vietnamese pho, a rich flavorful stock and the toppings.

Let’s start with the stock. Lots of people use the term stock and broth interchangeably, but there is a difference. My food hero, Alton Brown, defines a stock as being made with bones while a broth is made from meat and vegetables. This means that a stock is packed with collagen, this has an impact on it’s texture, it ends up being heavy and velvety on the tongue. On the other hand, broth is just a flavorful liquid and lacks the weight of a stock. I believe in stocks, specially for a soup like pho when there are minimal components, you want every player to count and stand out on their own.

Part two, the toppings, which is pretty much everything else, herbs, crispy bean sprouts and barley cooked beef all covering a bed of noodles. These things can’t be skipped, of coarse you can go vegetarian and substitute the beef with tofu or a different preferred protein. Thai basil and cilantro add a pop of freshness to balance the richness of the stock and the bean sprouts add a needed crunch of texture. A sprinkle of mint, sliced chilies, green onions, squeeze of lime, a dollop of chili paste and hoisin sauce are also welcome additions.






  • 1 gallon stock
  • ginger
  • onion
  • star anis pods
  • fennel seeds
  • cinnamon stick
  • clove
  • coriander
  • fish sauce
  • sugar
  • salt

To Serve

  • thin rice noodles
  • flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
  • Thai basil
  • cilantro
  • mung bean sprouts
  • mint
  • chilies, sliced
  • green onions
  • lime wedges
  • chili paste
  • hoisin sauce



  1. This recipe is all about doing things to taste, start off light with the spices and let the stock simmer for about an hour, taste and adjust. If there is a spice you like more than others add a bit more. The stock should only be at a bare simmer so it doesn’t become cloudy, the stock should cook 2-3 hours.

To Serve

  1. In a large bowl place cooked rice noodles, slices of beef and pour over the hot stock so it starts to cook the raw beef. Then put as much or as little of the toppings as you like.

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