2 litres good quality beef stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
6 cm piece ginger, sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, root end only, peeled and sliced
3 star anise
8 whole black peppercorns
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
300 gram piece beef fillet, trimmed of all sinew
100 grams bean starch vermicelli
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
100 grams bean sprouts
4 baby bok choy, leaves separated
1⁄2 cup coriander leaves
1⁄4 cup Vietnamese mint leaves – optional
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced 1 lime, cut into wedges
Broth: Place all the broth ingredients, except the fish sauce, into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes to infuse the flavours. Strain, discarding the solids and return to the saucepan. Add the fish sauce and set aside until ready to serve.
To finish: Place the beef in the freezer until partially frozen. Use a sharp knife to shave off very thin slices.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and drop in the noodles. When soft, drain and toss with a little oil to prevent them sticking together.
Divide the beef, noodles, spring onions, bean sprouts, bok choy and the sliced chilli equally between deep soup bowls. Bring the broth to the boil and ladle it over the beef and vegetables. Pass the herbs and limes separately for each person to add according to their own taste. Serves 6
Vietnamese mint has a spicy, citrus taste and can be found at markets, Asian food stores and good supermarkets. It grows very well from cuttings, but plant in a pot as it is very invasive and will soon take over your garden.