Pho Saigon, a quintessential Vietnamese dish, carries with it a rich tapestry of history and cultural significance. Esteemed for its deeply flavorful broth, tender meats, and the freshness of herbs and vegetables, Pho Saigon is more than a meal—it's an experience. Whether you're a seasoned foodie, a home cook, or simply an enthusiast of Vietnamese cuisine, this guide will walk you through the delightful process of creating Pho Saigon in your own kitchen.

Pho Saigon

Ingredients You'll Need

To bring this iconic dish to life, you'll need a combination of staple ingredients and fresh produce. Here's what you'll need:

  • For the Broth:
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 4-inch piece of ginger, unpeeled
  • 5-6 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • Beef bones (with marrow) or chicken carcass, depending on your preference
  • Salt and sugar, to taste
  • 6 quarts of water
  • For the Pho Bowl:
  • Rice noodles (banh pho), soaked or cooked as per package instructions
  • Thinly sliced beef (like sirloin or flank) or chicken
  • Fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, and mint
  • Bean sprouts
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced chili and hoisin sauce, for serving

Preparing the Broth

  1. Char the Onion and Ginger: Begin by charring the onion and ginger. This can be done either over an open flame on a gas stove or broiled in the oven until slightly blackened. This process adds a smoky depth to the broth.
  2. Toast the Spices: Lightly toast the star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, and cardamom in a dry pan until fragrant. Be careful not to burn them, as this could impart a bitter taste to your broth.
  3. Simmer the Broth: In a large pot, place the beef bones or chicken carcass, charred onion and ginger, toasted spices, and 6 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim any foam or impurities that rise to the surface. Add salt and sugar to taste. Allow the broth to simmer for at least 1.5 to 2 hours— the longer, the better.
  4. Strain the Broth: Once the broth has simmered and developed a rich flavor, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove solids. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Assembling the Pho Bowl

  1. Prepare Rice Noodles: If you haven't already, prepare your rice noodles as per the package's instructions. Ensure they are just tender and not overly soft.
  2. Slice the Meat: Thinly slice your beef or chicken. If using beef, the slices can be added raw to the bowl and will cook when the hot broth is poured over them. If using chicken, it should be cooked before being added to the bowl.
  3. Layer Your Bowl: Start by placing a handful of rice noodles in the bottom of the bowl. Next, add your sliced meats and then pour the hot broth over them, ensuring the meat gets cooked through (if using beef).
  4. Add Fresh Toppings: Top your bowl with generous amounts of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced chili. Each diner can adjust the flavor of their pho with hoisin sauce and additional herbs to their liking.

Serving Suggestions

Pho Saigon is best enjoyed immediately, with all the accompaniments laid out for everyone to customize their bowl. A small plate for discarding stems and lime wedges can be handy, as pho is traditionally eaten with a combination of chopsticks (for the solids) and a spoon (for the broth).


Creating Pho Saigon at home is a rewarding endeavor that brings a taste of Vietnamese culture right to your dining table. Through patience and practice, you'll find yourself not just making a dish but weaving a story of flavors, aromas, and traditions. We encourage you to take this guide, make it your own, and start your own Pho Saigon tradition today. Happy cooking!

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