This Vietnamese recipe from Canadian Living is light and full of flavour. It cooks very quickly, but you can also make the broth ahead. You need cheesecloth for this recipe so you can tie up the spices into a little bundle. Using the bundle ensures the broth has maximum flavour without pieces of star anise, seeds and peppercorns floating around in it. I used organic chicken stock instead of beef stock and it worked fine. I omitted the bean sprouts, but don’t omit the coriander and mint; they add wonderful flavour and colour.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

The ingredients that may include additives and preservatives are the stock, fish sauce and lime juice. Use an all-natural stock such as Imagine brand, a fish sauce with no MSG and fresh lime juice. Lime juice concentrate contains preservatives such as sodium benzoate.

Tie spices up in cheesecloth

Make stock and then add beef

Place cooked noodles in bowl and pour beef and broth over


3 thick slices gingerroot

2 whole cloves

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 whole star anise

1 strip (3 inches/8 cm long) lime rind

½ tsp (2 mL) coriander seeds

½ tsp (2 mL) black peppercorns

4 cups (1 L) beef stock

2 cups (500 mL) water

½ onion

1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce

8 oz (227 g) top sirloin grilling steaks

1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped fresh coriander

2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice

2 green onions, chopped

6 oz (170 g) rice stick noodles

1 cup (250 mL) bean sprouts

Chopped Fresh mint or coriander or sliced green onions


In centre of 6-inch (15 cm) double-thickness square of cheesecloth, place gingerroot, cloves, garlic, star anise, lime rind, coriander seeds and peppercorns; pull up corners and tie into bundle with string.

In saucepan, bring stock, water, onion, fish sauce and spice bag to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard spice bag. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

Slice beef as thinly as possible; add to saucepan and bring to boil, skimming off any foam with spoon. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chopped coriander, mint, lime juice and green onions.

Meanwhile, in pot of boiling salted water, cook rice noodles until tender but firm, about 5 minutes; drain. Divide among 4 soup bowls. Top with bean sprouts. Pour beef mixture over noodles. Garnish with mint. Serves 4.

From the March 2003 issue of Canadian Living