Hai Nguyen’s Vietnamese Beef Phở

Linhbergh’s Mom’s Secret Recipe

This is a recipe that requires very little technical skills. It’s more of a test of how long you can stop yourself from going crazy when your whole campsite wafts with the smells of phở.


  • 3-4lbs of beef oxtail
  • 1.5-2lbs of beef chuck roast
  • 1 carton of 32oz beef bone broth
  • 1 carton of 32oz chicken bone broth
  • 2 quarts of hot water (or however much water is needed to top off the pot)
  • 1 whole yellow onion for the broth
  • 2 medium sized shallots for the broth
  • 1/2 yellow onion (for garnish)
  • 1 big knob of ginger
  • 1 Phở spice pack
  • 1 bundle of cilantro (for garnish)
  • 1 pack of fresh bean sprouts (for garnish)
  • Phở noodles (dry or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup of fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Chicken bouillon powder, or MSG
  • 3 Tbsp of sugar
  • 2 Tbsp salt, then adjust to taste if needed
  • 2 limes (to finish)
  • Ground black pepper (to finish)

Must Have’s

  • Dutch oven, 12” preferred, 10” will need recipe amounts reduction.
  • Medium sized pot (for noodles)
  • Two burner propane stove
  • 1 bag of instant-light charcoal briquettes/heat beads


  1. Start by preheating the charcoal briquettes over a campfire ring, or, we use a foldable fire pit, in a charcoal chimney. You want about 20 coals to start off. It should take about 30 minutes for them to be ready. Start the charcoal about 10 minutes before you start prepping the broth. By the time the broth is ready, the charcoal should be ready as well.
  2. Place the dutch oven on the stove.
  3. Pour in both cartons of bone broth, and chicken broth. The addition of the chicken broth draws its inspiration from northern-style phở where they make the broth with both beef and chicken bones. Makes for a wonderfully light, sweet, yet complex broth.
  4. Top off the dutch oven with water but leave 1 inch at top for boiling broth breathing room. Pre-boiling the water saves on time to bring the bigger pot up to boiling temperature.
  5. Slice the beef chuck roast into long smaller strips with about a 3” diameter. This helps the meat cook and tenderize faster while it’s brewing away on the coals. The chuck roast will be sliced into even thinner slices for serving after it has cooked.
  6. Place in the oxtail, chuck roast, whole peeled onion. Slice ginger into thick slices and then add it into the broth.
  7. Bring the dutch oven pot up to a boil.
  8. Scum will start to come to the surface as it slowly comes up to a boil. You want to skim this scum off into a bowl as it appears. Keep skimming until the pot comes to a rolling boil. Bring down the heat to medium, and skim off any excess scum. You know you’ll be good once the top of the pot looks scum free. Discard the scum.
  9. Bag the phở spices into the included cheesecloth bag and place it into the pot.
  10. Place the lid on the dutch oven and put 8 coals at the bottom, and 12 at the top on the lid.
    Briquettes are great for this because once they’re up to temperature, they last about around an hour. So when you’re 30 minutes in, start up another batch of briquettes so you can swap out to fresh ones to keep the heat going. You’re going to be baby sitting the coals for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, so 3 to 4 total charcoal start up runs. Make sure you have enough briquettes as well. Start with a new bag and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    (PLEASE NOTE: Respect ANY fire bans in your area. ALWAYS get a fire permit if it is required in your state. It is required in California even for propane stove usage on federally controlled lands. DO NOT light charcoal if there is an ongoing fire ban where you’re camped. Alternatively, you can make this dish over propane, but it will require a lot of propane. You can have three green bottles of propane to be safe, or use a larger propane tank —5lb tank minimum.)

  11. While the broth is brewing away for the next few hours, you can take the time to chill, or catch up on your favorite book. This down time is also a good time to prep your garnishes. Slice the onions thin, and chop the cilantro.
  12. You’re cooking more for when the chuck roast is tender than you are for the actual time. You’ll know when the chuck roast is done by taking it out with a pair of tongs and jiggling it. If it jiggles like a firm Jello, you’re good.
  13. Once the chuck roast is done. Pull the dutch oven off of the coals, and straight back onto the stove to bring back up to boiling temperature. If there’s any additional (more blackened) scum when it comes to a boil, skim it off once again until the top is once again clean. Bring down the heat to a slow simmer.
  14. Pull out the chuck onto a plate to let it cool down a little. You’ll want to slice them into thin slices.
  15. Now, it’s finally time to season the broth! Pour in the fish sauce, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, and salt into the pot. Stir and taste. Adjust to taste.
  16. In the second, medium sized pot, bring water up to a boil and cook the phở according to the directions on the package. If you’re cooking dry noodles, simmer them for about 10 minutes until just pasta al dente. If you’re cooking fresh noodles, they’re quick, so they should be done in about a minute or less.
  17. Place cooked noodles into your serving bowl of choice. Top with the meat, bean sprouts, and onions and cilantro garnish.
  18. Ladle in the broth, top with freshly cracked black pepper, sit down, look at the scenery around you, and slurp away!