Luke Nguyen’s Vietnamese PHO recipe

I remember the first time I met Chef Luke Nguyen, he opened his jacket to reveal a t-shirt that read I *heart* PHO. He wasn’t wearing that though at the launch party for Fat Noodle, The Star, where Nguyen is the consulting Chef. Check him out in the chef’s jacket below. Good fun with friends, old and new. You’ll know some of the faces. And, this time I didn’t let Masterchef judge Matt Preston near my handbag. It was a yummy party. Now I know you like your recipes and, so do I. So, I asked Luke Nguyen if he would share his recipe for PHO so you can try it at home too. Thank you Luke!


2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) oxtail (ask your butcher to chop it into 3 cm/11/4 inch pieces)
4 tablespoons salt
1 unpeeled garlic bulb
4 large unpeeled onions
150 g (51/2 oz) unpeeled ginger
2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) beef brisket
185 ml (6 fl oz/3/4 cup) fish sauce
80 g (23/4 oz) rock sugar
1.6 kg (3 lb 8 oz) fresh rice noodles (you will need about 200 g/7 oz per person)
400 g (14 oz) trimmed sirloin, thinly sliced
4 spring onions (scallions), sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Coriander (cilantro) sprigs
1 cup of bean sprouts
1 bunch Asian basil
2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Spice pouch
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
8 whole cloves
5 star anise
2 cassia bark, about 10 cm (4 inch) in length
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
40 cm (16 inch) square piece muslin cloth

In a large pot, submerge the oxtail in cold water, add 3 tablespoons of the salt and soak for 1 hour, then drain.

To make the spice pouch, dry roast each ingredient separately in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Cool, then coarsely grind using a mortar and pestle or small spice grinder. Add the ground spices to the muslin square and tie up tightly in a knot. Set aside.

Heat a barbecue grill or char gill pan over medium-high heat and grill the unpeeled garlic, onions and ginger evenly for 15 minutes in total until all sides are blackened. Now peel the blackened skins and discard them, and then roughly chop. By doing this, the garlic, onion and ginger becomes sweet and fragrant, releasing more flavour into the stock.

Put the oxtail, beef bones, brisket and 6 litres (200 fl oz) of cold water in a stockpot and bring to the boil. While the stock is boiling, constantly skim any impurities off the surface for 15 minutes (this will ensure a clean, clear broth), then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the fish sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon of salt, rock sugar, garlic, onions, ginger and spice pouch.

Cover and simmer for 4 hours, or until the stock has reduced to almost half.

Strain the stock through a muslin cloth. Remove the brisket, set aside to cool, then thinly slice.

Blanch each portion of noodles in boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl. Place three or four slices of brisket on top of the noodles, followed by three or four pieces of raw sirloin. Pour over the hot stock to cover the noodles and beef.

Garnish with 1 tablespoon of spring onion, a pinch of black pepper and a coriander sprig to each bowl. At the table, add chilli, bean sprouts, basil and a squeeze of lime.

Oh, and here’s a photo of Chef Luke Nguyen and me, with our Tamarind and Maple Martinis in hand. Like the food, the cocktails were delicious too!

Of course you can also head on in to either Red Lantern on Crown, Red Lantern on Riley (or Red Lily the laneway bar behind the restaurant) for a taste of his PHO and other Vietnamese food delights.

Red Lantern On Crown
545 Crown Street Surry Hills NSW Australia

Red Lantern On Riley
60 Riley Street Darlinghurst NSW Australia

Red Lily Cocktail Bar
Crown Lane, Darlinghurst NSW Australia

+ 61 2 9698 4355

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments for this article

26 Responses to “Luke Nguyen’s Vietnamese PHO recipe”

  1. Amy @ cookbookmaniac says:
    March 16, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Ooh, i must visit fat noodle soon. thanks for sharing the recipe.

  2. michael says:
    April 29, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    is there something else other than oxtail that can be used?

    ALthough I will admit my favourite memories of vietnam all revolve around pho :)

    • Eric says:
      September 1, 2011 at 2:28 am

      Beef bone should be oki

  3. Christina says:
    June 1, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Wow, looks delicious. Thanks very much for the recipe Becca.
    How many serves does this make?

  4. Jun says:
    October 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I am bookmarking this recipe! I have been looking for the perfect pho recipe. Most recipes have so few ingredients and short cooking time, unlike what I have heard from my Vietnamese friends. This would be a fun experiment!

    • Rebecca Varidel
      Rebecca Varidel says:
      October 26, 2010 at 1:46 pm

      I’ve eaten this a couple of times cooked by Luke Nguyen it’s deep and rich and complex and tasty and nourishing – enjoy!

  5. Jason Nanka says:
    May 18, 2011 at 1:59 am

    This recipe looks really good! Im gunna try it next time… This is the pho that I made today it is in my facebook album –

  6. Blair James says:
    May 26, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Wow! It looks delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  7. Kirsty says:
    June 10, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Thanks for the recipe but it looks so complicated that I think I’ll just keep heading 5 minutes down the road to PHD my fave Vietmanese restaurant in Marrickville where a big bowl is $9 and served in under 10 mins!

  8. Lena Rogan says:
    August 9, 2011 at 5:38 am

    What sort and how many kgs. of beef bones is needed for this recipe? Approximately how many people does this recipe serve?

  9. Unkown says:
    December 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Luke’ing good ;)

  10. SarahKate says:
    March 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I’m traveling in Vietnam for 3 months and I’m using Luke’s book, The Songs of Sapa, as a travel guide. Forget Lonely Planet, this guy knows Vietnam! I’ll try this recipe when I get home and I’m craving a reminder of our travels. YUM!

  11. Afroz says:
    March 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    I cooked PHo today following this recipe ,did some tiny alteration though. it was havenly.took 5hrs of cooking and 20 mi of eating :(.thanks for the recipe.

    • Andy says:
      September 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

      Same here… it’s great. Respect for Luke’s skills :)

  12. Mark Adrian says:
    February 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I’ve been very keen to try making Pho at home but haven’t been able to find a recipe that look authentic. This one certainly sounds awesome!

    I really can’t wait to give this a go, all the ingredients sound incredible, and being Luke’s recipe I think I can be confident it will taste as good as it sounds!!

  13. Caz says:
    March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Made this recipe today and I have to say it tastes amazing!!

    • Rebecca Varidel
      Rebecca Varidel says:
      March 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      thanks for the feedback – have to say I agree :)

  14. Darron says:
    July 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I am in Vietnam at the moment just out of Saigon. The PHO here is so great. I will be trying this recipe as soon as I get home.

  15. bob @ says:
    August 10, 2013 at 1:17 am

    This looks rather good. I quite enjoy pho. Too easy to walk up to kingstreet and get one at PHO 236 though :) bookmarked.

    • Rebecca Varidel
      Rebecca Varidel says:
      August 10, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      this recipe is superior to any I’ve tasted at an eating establishment (other than when Luke cooks it that is). I like my pho with tripe.

  16. Kris says:
    August 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I made the stock part and wondered if I did something wrong it was really salty and the spices weren’t that strong do you really have to put in 185ml of fish sauce? I love miss chu’s but am thinking I did this wrong Can anyone describe the flavour it should be? Cheers

    • Rebecca Varidel
      Rebecca Varidel says:
      September 1, 2013 at 1:28 am

      Did you drain off the oxtail? most of the salt is in the initial soaking of that,and is removed in that first step. BTW: Chef Luke Nguyen’s restaurants are Red Lantern and Red Lantern on Riley.

  17. T.Lee says:
    April 21, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    This recipe is amazing!! From a family of 30 Vietnamese/Chinese regular pho eaters, this got the two thumbs up without the MSG thirst we get from most pho outlets. I used a kilo of beef bones. Cooked it the day before and let it sit over night and scooped off the layer of fat in the morning for a super clear broth. We had little taster bowls, but I would say that this could serve 6-8 people. Definitely making this again!

Leave a Reply