Ease of preparation rating: Medium
Yield: 8-10 servings
4 lbs (1.8 kg) pork bones
6 stalks lemongrass
3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
2 shallots, minced
1 tablespoon (15 ml) annatto seeds
1 ½ pounds (675 g) boneless beef shank
1 pound (454 g) boneless pork leg
20 cups (4.8 L) water
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fish sauce
1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) white sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fine shrimp sauce
5 tablespoons (75 ml) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) crushed red pepper flakes
3 medium garlic cloves, finely diced
1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fish sauce
28 ounces (794 g) rice vermicelli sticks, cooked until al dente, drained, then rinsed under cold water
5 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
3 limes, cut into wedges
10 sprigs mint
Large handful Vietnamese coriander (or cilantro)
2 Thai chilies, chopped
Thai basil, chopped
Put pork bones in a large pot.
Cover with water and boil for a few minutes, then drain the water, remove the bones and rinse well in water. This will help remove any impurities from the bones, resulting in a clearer stock.
Cut off bottom of lemongrass and peel first few outer layers. Using a pestle or the side of a large knife, bruise the lemongrass by pressing down on the stalks.
Cut the stalks into 3-inch (7.6 cm) pieces. Set aside.
In the same large pot (make sure to clean it after boiling the pork bone), add the vegetable oil and heat over medium heat.
Add shallots and cook just until fragrant.
Stir in annatto and cook until the shallots turns yellow-orange.
Turn heat to medium-high and add the beef shank and boneless pork leg, moving the shallots out of the way. Brown on both sides.
Add 20 cups (4.8 L) of water to pot, then add the lemongrass and pork bones.
Bring water to boil then reduce heat and simmer.
Add fish sauce, sugar and shrimp sauce.
Simmer for about an hour or until meat is tender. Using a ladle, remove any foam that rises to top.
When the meat is tender, remove using tongs or a slotted spoon, place in colander and rinse under cold water. Leave stock to continue simmering.
Remove any excess fat from meat, then cut into thin, bite-sized strips. Set aside.
Set out individual serving bowls for the soup. Reheat the noodles by bringing a pot of water to a vigorous boil. Place noodles in a mesh sieve or strainer with a handle and dunk into boiling water. Leave there for 10 seconds then pull up, letting excess water drain. Put a generous amount of the noodles into each serving bowl. You may have to reheat the noodles in batches.
To a small saucepan, add vegetable oil, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add sugar and fish sauce, and stir.
Put in a small bowl and set aside.
Ladle broth into serving bowls over noodles.
Top with scallions, a generous spoonful of chili oil and some of the sliced meat.
Serve with garnishes.