Traditionally a northern Vietnamese breakfast specialty, pho bo is now eaten through-out the country at any time of day. Charring the meat, ginger, and shallots gives the broth its complexity. Beef oxtail, although bony and tough, is very flavorful, so it's good for making broth. Partially freeze eye-of-round roast to make it easier to slice. You can also use regular sweet basil in place of Thai basil.
3 pounds beef oxtail
3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger (about 3 ounces)
2/3 cup coarsely chopped shallots (about 3 medium shallots)
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (such as Three Crabs)
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
5 whole cloves
2 star anise
1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups vertically sliced onion
12 ounces wide rice stick noodles (banh pho)
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
12 ounces eye-of-round roast, trimmed and cut into 1/16-inch slices
2 cups cilantro leaves
1 cup Thai basil leaves
4 red Thai chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
8 lime wedges
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (optional)
How to Make It
To prepare broth, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add oxtail, ginger, and shallots; sauté 8 minutes or until ginger and shallots are slightly charred. Add water and next 8 ingredients (through cinnamon stick); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 hours. Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Return broth to pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until reduced to 10 cups (about 30 minutes). Skim fat from surface; discard fat. Keep warm.
To prepare remaining ingredients, add sliced onion to broth. Place noodles in a large bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes. Drain. Place 1/3 cup bean sprouts in each of 6 soup bowls. Top each serving with 1 1/3 cup noodles and 2 ounces eye-of-round. Carefully ladle 1 2/3 cups boiling broth over each serving (boiling broth will cook the meat). Serve with cilantro, basil, chiles, limes, and hoisin, if desired.