Need final words on using bones in pho broth  

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Hi there,

I've seen many recipes (mostly beef pho) that require use of bones and/or oxtail in order to make good pho broth. So my question is, is this absolute requirement or you can just use lot of beef to get the beefy taste?

Thanks in advance.

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Joined: 11 years ago

Pho Restaurant Consultant
Posts: 342

I wouldn't call the following as final words. Let's just call them very reasonable views on pho making.

No it is definitely not necessary to use bones in order to achieve good beef pho broth. While it is important to have correct/good ingredients, in my opinion it is much more important to utilize good technique and procedure to make your pho broth. As I've tried to explain several times on, being able to pay attention to the right areas of pho making is a learned skill, and no amount of beef bones can hide the fact that you have poor pho broth technique/knowledge.

Also consider that in the early days of the different Little Saigons in America (mid to late 1970's), not all pho restaurants were able to find bones in any supermarkets or vendors just because this ingredients weren't demanded by the American public. But guess what, we had delicious pho served to hungry customers to this day.

So don't worry too much about it. If you can get decent marrow boned/femur bones/oxtails or even neck bones then just follow the proper cooking process. But if not, then some extra, flank or brisket or other cuts will do just fine. You'll get just as good beefy taste. 

Lastly here's something to be pointed out. Without the marrow bones, you won't get the delicious fatty marrow taste. But that is ok.

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That's what the Internet does for you. There are times when just way too many alternative takes on the same thing can give you more confusion than a solution. I agree with Cuong, that there is no real rule on this. If you can find bones then that's nice but it's not a requirement.

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I think bone and marrow are overrated. You can still make great pho without them. Recent foodies make too much of a deal out of them.

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I don't make pho myself but have many friends who do. They always invite me and on only one occasion I see beef bones used. All the pho taste great so I have to say you don't necessarily need bones. On the other hand, many people do tend to show off with their recipes and fancy ingredients on the Internet, and pho is no exception. Just my opinion.


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