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Happy Birthday, Julia!
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A Thrill, A Rush, A Change of Plans
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Drunk Tennis
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I Want An Empty Waiting Room
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About time!
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The Things I've Learned (so far)...
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Love Sucks, Play Hard.
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School Lunches
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We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Food Science Blog For...
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But You're A Med Student!
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Filtering - Equipment
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Blurring The Lines - Part I
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The Future of Food...?
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Blogger Profile

School of Medicine
Dub C Med School CA USA

A med & grad student who used to work the line in LA, NYC, SF and Napa talking about the science of cooking and cooking with science. Harold McGee's On Food And Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen never satisfied my kitchen curiosity and more than one Chef grew exasperated with my asking "Why?" I'll try to stay on topic, but you may see a kvetch or two about the school & hospital.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Recent Comments
Comment by BeckonsAttore in EMR - Electronic Medical Records

Well, so emr software has it's problems, not like making them public wouldn't cause them any more trouble as it normally would in a paranoid mind, as this yannisguerra's perspective here. I've delv. . .Read More
Aug 08, 2013, 9:35am
Comment by Brian Krueger, PhD in Happy Birthday, Julia!

I'd gladly take on that burden if you were my roomie ;) . . .Read More
Aug 15, 2012, 4:25pm
Comment by JaySeeDub in Happy Birthday, Julia!

If it makes you feel any better, it could be worse. My roommates complain about expanding waistlines. . . .Read More
Aug 15, 2012, 2:33pm
Comment by Brian Krueger, PhD in Happy Birthday, Julia!

Your posts always make me so hungry and its 9am! I saw that amazon now has reruns of "The French Chef" available for streaming.  It made me want to go back and check some of them out.  I remember. . .Read More
Aug 15, 2012, 8:15am
Comment by yannisguerra in EMR - Electronic Medical Records

I feel your pain. It is really bad. Even worse when half of those pages are non important informations (like 5 copies of the same lab, including who ordered it, when, where, etc) So wastefu. . .Read More
May 10, 2012, 6:56pm
Monday, March 19, 2012

I love this weather. The sharp, cold Bay Area rain. The rain that turns gutters into miniature rivers of brown, and city streets slick. The pavement at the Embarcadero Center shines just a little bit more in the rain. The windows overlooking Parnassus sheet with water and are refreshingly cool to the touch in the middle of a shift. The crisp, clean air that makes a walk through the Mt. Sutro Reserve a treat. The canopies of trees shielding you from the rain, but not that smell of fresh damp. After a "winter" with temps  upwards of 70F (20C), the rain has been glorious. It never lasts long enough. And I dread the allergies to come. Still, the rain is welcome. Sharp. Cool. Clean.

The one pain I've had with the rain is that I've had dinner reservations most of this week. And there's just no classy way to pull off the "got splashed by a taxi and now the right pantleg is soaked with gutter water" look. The plus side is that school is reimbursing me for dinner at some nice places. After all those dinners, though, I've been craving something a little less...fussy. And I can't think of anything more un-fussy than a bowl of pho. The rich, savory broth. That slurp of noodle. The sharp freshness of basil. The heat of chili sauce. All of these things together create an amazing counterpoint to the sharp, cool, clean rain. 

Don't get me wrong. Pho isn't easy. A lot of dishes aren't easy. And many times people mistake "simple" or "un-fussy" with "easy." I don't do easy. Nothing good is every easy. Would I make this dish during the weekday? Yes. Would I make the broth during the weekday? Hell no. The broth is key for pho. Where the noodles are body, and the thin slices of meat and garnishes are treats, the broth is the heart and soul of the dish. No matter how high quality the noodles or thin slices of meat or other accoutrements are, if the broth is bad the entire dish is bad.


  • 2.5kg (5.5lbs) beef knuckle (if you can't get beef knuckle, you can substitute london broil)
  • 1.5kg (3.3lbs) marrow bones
  • 1 daikon radish sliced
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 60g whole star anise
  • 60g fresh ginger
  • 15g sugar
  • 20g black peppercorns
  • water
  • salt
  • fish sauce
  • crushed black pepper
  • olive oi
    Pho broth
    Credit: J.C.W.


  1. Salt the beef knuckle and place in large stock pot. Cover in water. Should be around 7-8L of water. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and then let simmer for 2 hours.
  2. Set oven to 400F/205C. Rub marrow bones with olive oil and set on a sheet pan in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  3. Skim the pot of all floating material. Add onions, daikon and roasted marrow bones. Tie up cinnamon, star anise, ginger, peppercorns in cheesecloth and add to pot. Add sugar. Splash with fish sauce. Continue to allow the broth to simmer for at least another 4 hours. Taste for salt, pepper and fish sauce, adding if needed. Strain out all solid materials from broth. Discard solids. The beef knuckle will have given up most of its flavor, but if you like well done, boiled beef help yourself.
  4. At this point, you can either serve the broth with noodles or allow to cool and then freeze/refrigerate for use later on. Ice cube trays are great for this. Alternately, you can freeze them in 1 cup aliquots with freezer bags. If you do freeze broth and then warm it up, please do not re-freeze it.
  5. If serving, place flat rice noodles in another pot of boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes and place in bowl. Top with thai basil, cilantro, thin sliced onions, bean sprouts, peppers, sriracha and thinly sliced raw beef or par cooked prawns or whatever protein you want. Pour hot broth over noodles and garnishes. 

Now, I have a confession to make about this recipe. This isn't how I always make it. I'm a scrap hoarder. Every piece of protein I've prepped. Every vegetable I've chopped. I save the scraps in the freezer. And they go into my broths and stocks. The ingredients I've listed above? They're always in the broth. But sometimes the trimmings from a tritip or maybe some dungeness crab shells make their way into this broth. That is the great versitility of homemade broths and stocks. Everything you add to them adds to the flavor and complexity. Unlike dishes where adding another ingredient just muddies and dirties the finished product, broths and stocks take the best parts and mix them together when they're well tended and fed.

It's going to continue to be cool and wet in the Bay Area for the next few days. I'm certainly looking forward to the cold, sharp wet. Sure, I won't be able to play tennis for a few days, but I think I can manage to console myself with a few steaming hot bowls of pho instead.

Bowl of pho with prawns
Credit: J.C.W.

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Blog Comments

Guest Comment

Try roasting your ginger knob and onion with the marrow bones...adds a whole extra layer of flavor! Pho is awesome.


Dub C Med School
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I forgot about that step. Yes. Absolutely roast the ginger and onions with the marrow bones. Thank you for the reminder, Carri!

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Guest Comment

In the Broth, do we add Spaghetti or Noodle?? The noodle in the picture looks good!!

Dub C Med School
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Add pho noodles. You can find them at asian markets. They'll be in plastic bags labelled as "banh pho." Bring a separate pot of water to a boil, and cook the noodles until just starting to get tender. They cook quickly, maybe 30-45 seconds and then put them in a bowl and cover with the broth. 

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