Vietnam’s national dish


  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 75g root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 stems of lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or use demerara)
  • 2 x 450g tubs fresh beef stock
  • 3 nests of flat rice noodles (we used Mama)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 x 225g rump steak
  • 2 handfuls of bean sprouts
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 lime, plus slices and wedges to serve
  • 1-2 green bird eye chillies, sliced (use as much or as little as you like, depending on how hot you like it)
  • a handful coriander, leaves only


Get ahead. Prepare up to the end of step 1 up to 1 day ahead, leave to cool then strain into a jug, cover and chill. To reheat, slowly bring to the boil, then continue with the recipe.

  1. Reserve 2 of the spring onions for garnish and roughly chop the rest. Place in a medium saucepan with the ginger, star anise, lemongrass, palm sugar and stock. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 35 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the noodles in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again and divide between 2 deep bowls.
  3. Heat a frying pan until very hot and add the oil. Pat the steak dry with kitchen paper and season on both sides. Fry for 1-11⁄2 minutes on each side, then remove to a chopping board and leave to rest for a couple of minutes. The steak should still be rare inside, as it will continue to cook in the hot broth.
  4. A good-quality stock will make all the difference to the flavour of these soups – use homemade, if you have some, or the ready-made fresh variety from the chilled aisle.
  5. Place a mound of bean sprouts on top of the noodles in each bowl. Thinly slice the steak and add to the bowls with any juices from the board. Season the broth with the fish sauce and juice of half a lime (or more, to taste). Strain the hot broth over the beef and noodles. Thinly slice the reserved spring onions and add some to the bowls with the chillies and coriander. Add lime slices and serve with chopsticks, soup spoons and the lime wedges and remaining spring onions on the side.