2 yellow onions unpeeled (approximately 1 lb)
4-inch piece of ginger
5 lbs beef leg bones
6 quarts water
5 star anise (40 robust points)
2 whole black cardamom - also known as brown cardamom
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 ¼ lbs boneless beef brisket or cross rib-roast
1 ½ Tbsp salt
¼ cup fish sauce * (substitute soy sauce with 1 Tbsp lime juice)
2 Tbsp rock sugar (substitute cane sugar)
2 lbs flat rice noodles
Cooked beef from the broth
½ lbs eye of round or tri-tip
3 scallions, green part thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cups bean sprouts
10 sprigs of mint
10 sprigs of basil
2 or 3 limes, cut in wedges
If you have ever made roast peppers, then this will not be unfamiliar. You place the unpeeled onions and the piece of ginger on a gas grill, or bbq, or medium hot burner of an electric stove. Let the skin burn and use tongs to rotate the onions and ginger. It takes about 15-20 minutes for them to get soft and sweeter on the inside. Let them cool. Rinse the onions under warm running water, rubbing off the charred skin. Peel the ginger skin with a peeler, or a spoon. Cut the ginger in half and set it aside with the onions.
You will need to parboil the bones to clean them. Place them in a stockpot and add cold water - enough to cover them. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 2 – 3 minutes on high heat. Strain the bones and rinse them to remove any residue. Scrub the stockpot and return the bones to the pot.
Pour in 6 quarts of water (24 cups), and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum and lower to a simmer. Add the onions, ginger, spices, fish sauce, salt, beef, salt, and sugar. Simmer uncovered for 1 ½ hrs.
The boneless beef should be chewy and when pressed should feel like the flesh at the base of your thumb. Remove from the pot and transfer to a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes. Set it aside, cover, and put it in the fridge. Let the broth simmer for another 1 ½ hrs.
Strain the broth and discard the solids. If you can cool it and place it in the fridge, then keep it overnight and let the fat rise to the top. You can skim it off and reheat the broth. If not, then take the time to skim off the fat with a ladle.
Meanwhile, boil water and cover the dried noodles in a bowl. Let them stand for 15-20 minutes.
Cut the cooked beef as thinly as you like. Take the ½ lb of raw beef and slice it as well (freeze it for 15 minutes and it will be easier to slice).
ASSEMBLING THE BOWLS
Place the beef, green scallions, rice noodles, cilantro in the bowls. Fill each bowl with hot broth. Flavour with pepper and salt.
Place the garnishes on the table and let each person add what they want. Squeeze the lime juice into the bowl and enjoy.