Take the time to
prepare this classic
Vietnamese soup
properly and
you will not be
disappointed. Set
out sliced jalapeño
chiles and/or chile
sauce, such as
Sriracha, for
those who like
a spicier broth.

serves 6
3 lb (1.5 kg) oxtails, cut into
2-inch (5-cm) pieces
2 lb (1 kg) beef brisket
4-inch (10-cm) piece fresh ginger,
cut into 4 pieces and crushed
10 shallots, unpeeled
1 lb (500 g) daikon radish, cut into 2-inch
(5-cm) chunks
2 carrots, cut into thirds
7 star anise
5 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1⁄2 lb (250 g) beef sirloin, wrapped in
plastic wrap and frozen for 1 hour
Leaves from 1⁄2 bunch cilantro
1⁄2 bunch basil, preferably Thai
2 limes, cut into wedges
1⁄2 lb (250 g) flat rice noodles, 1⁄4 inch (6 mm)
wide, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
1 white onion, thinly sliced
3 green onions, white and tender green
parts, thinly sliced
1 lb (500 g) bean sprouts
Bring a large, heavy pot of water to a boil.
Add the oxtails and brisket, return to a boil,
and boil for 3 minutes. Pour off the water,
then add 4 qt (4 l) fresh water to the pot and
bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, place a dry frying pan over high
heat and add the ginger and shallots. Cook,
turning occasionally, until evenly colored,
2–3 minutes. Transfer to the pot and add
the daikon, carrots, star anise, cloves, and
cinnamon sticks. Return to a boil, reduce
the heat to a gentle simmer, cover partially,
and cook for 11⁄2 hours.
Remove the brisket and let cool. Continue to
simmer the stock until it is fragrant and light
amber in color, about 1 hour longer.

Cut the brisket across the grain into thin
slices. Strain the stock through a sieve into a
heatproof bowl and skim off the fat. Discard
the oxtails and vegetables. Return the stock
to the pot and season with the fish sauce and
sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer.
Cut the partially frozen beef on the diagonal
into paper-thin slices. Arrange on a platter.
On a separate platter, arrange the cilantro,
basil, and lime wedges.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.
Slide the noodles into the boiling water, stir
well, and cook until just tender, 1–2 minutes.
Drain. Divide the noodles among bowls. Put
a few brisket slices in each bowl. Top with
white onion slices, green onions, and bean
sprouts. Ladle the hot stock into the bowls.
Serve with the platters of beef and herbs
for adding to the bowls.