Mrs. Tran's Pho Broth with Flank Steak


Chef Qui Tran of Nudo House in St. Louis shares his mother’s master recipe for pho broth, simmered slowly with beef knuckle bones, whole toasted spices, and aromatics.

Mrs. Tran's Master Pho Broth with Flank Steak
Photo: Eric Wolfinger
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
6 hrs 30 mins
6 quarts broth and 5 cups sliced beef

You’ll want to keep a batch of broth in the freezer for an instant, soothing noodle bowl any night of the week.


  • 4 pounds beef knuckle bones, rinsed

  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

  • 1 1/2 teapoons whole cloves

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds

  • 3 whole star anise

  • 1 pound yellow onions, peeled

  • 1 (4-inch) piece ginger, halved lengthwise

  • 3 ounces Vietnamese rock candy or palm sugar

  • 1 (3-pound) flank steak

  • 1/4 cup fine sea salt (not iodized)


  1. Place bones in a 12-quart stockpot and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat; pour off and discard liquid. Rinse bones under cold running water. Wash pot.

  2. Meanwhile, toast cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice, coriander, and star anise in a dry skillet over moderately high heat, shaking pan occasionally, until spices are toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Place spices in cheesecloth; secure with butcher’s twine.

  3. Return bones to pot and add 2 gallons cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming impurities as they rise to the surface, 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Add onions, ginger, and rock candy. Simmer 3 hours. Discard onions and ginger. Add spice pouch, flank steak, and 2 1/2 tablespoons salt; simmer until spices are infused, about 1 hour. Remove and discard pouch. Simmer gently until steak is cooked through and tender but not falling apart, about 1 hour.

  4. Remove steak; let rest 15 minutes. Pour broth through a cheesecloth-lined fine wire-mesh strainer. Stir in remaining salt. Thinly slice steak against the grain.

Make Ahead

Broth and steak can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Place in separate containers; cover and chill.

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