Quarantine Oxtail Pho From the Chef Who Redefined Vancouver Thai Cuisine

Angus An, the chef and owner of Maenam, Fat Mao Noodles, and Freebird Chicken Shack, shares his recipe for his favourite bowl of comforting quarantine noodles:

We often go out for pho as a family on Sunday mornings at Linh Café. It’s become an unofficial tradition. Since the COVID crisis started, I have been cooking every day at home and enjoying every minute of it. I love preparing long braises and soups.

This was one of the first dishes I made during the first week of COVID closures. I think with the uncertainties that surround our society, I naturally gravitated towards a comforting dish. We had it for brunch that first weekend, and I have made it several times since.


A good pho broth should be rich in flavour but light in body.

Quarantine Oxtail Pho

Serves 6


4 lb oxtail

1 whole onion

6 star anise

1 cassia bark

1 tbsp whole coriander seeds

1 tsp whole clove

8 whole white cardamom pods

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 tea bag

1 whole carrot

3 whole spring onions

1 hand of ginger (roughly sliced)

150-200 ml fish sauce

8 litres water

Blanch the oxtail by covering with cold water and bringing it to a boil, discard the water, and rinse the oxtail. This frees the oxtail and the broth of impurities and blood coagulates. Cut the onion in half; burn the onion directly over open flame on a gas stove—the onion gives the broth body and colour. If electric stove or induction stove is used, burn the onion in a pan.

Combine all the spices into the tea bag; this ensures the spices stay together and can be fished out easily. Put it and all other ingredients in a heavy 10-litre pot; top with cold water. Bring the pot to a light boil and turn it down to a low simmer (no movements but small bubbles). Cover and simmer for 6-8 hours until oxtail meat is tender; I prefer almost falling off the bone.

Taste the broth and adjust seasoning if needed. If broth evaporates too much and becomes too rich, add a cup or two of water and simmer for 5 more minutes. A pho broth should be rich in flavour but light in body.


Burned onions give colour and flavour to the broth.

To serve

Lao Gan Ma

Chili oil with solids, like this, is available in most Asian markets.

8-12 Vietnamese beef balls (optional)

1 lb pho noodles, frozen (I prefer this over the dried stuff)

1-2 lbs bean sprouts (depending on preference)

4 stalks green onion

Chili oil with paste

Handful of picked cilantro leaves

2 bunches Thai basil

Lemon or lime wedges on the side

Quarter the balls and simmer them with the broth. Thaw the noodles and separate into individual portions. In a pot of boiling water, simmer each portion of noodles with some bean sprouts in a noodle basket. Cut green onion into sections and lightly simmer them in the broth.

Ladle oxtail into a bowl with noodles and bean sprouts, and finish with broth. Garnish the broth with 1 tbsp of the chili paste with oil, cilantro, Thai basil, and serve.


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Post Date:

April 29, 2020