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3 large onions
1 Tbsp peanut oil
5 pounds combination of meaty beef and chicken bones
4 ginger slices julienned
2 carrots julienned
1 small stick cinnamon
1 star anise
2 whole cloves
1 tsp whole black peppercorn
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled, smashed
2 cups (1/2 lb) fresh bean sprouts
1/2 lb beef sirloin, sliced very thin across grain, bitesize
1 green onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
4 fresh red or green chiles, sliced
2 limes cut into wedges
8 ounces rice sticks, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained
2 - 3 Tbsp fish sauce (nuoc mam / nam pla)
Fresh black pepper to taste

Slice two of the onions into 1/4 inch slices. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in
a frying pan. Add the sliced onion, and cook, stirring, until the
outside has browned. Remove and drain. Slice the remaining onion
into paper-thin slices and set aside.

Rinse the bones and place in a stockpot. Cover with cold water.
Bring slowly to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered. For a
clear broth skim off foam. After 10 - 15 minutes, add browned onion
and ginger, carrots, cinnamon, cardomom, star anise, cloves, garlic
and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Simmer the stock, partially
covered for 6 to 12 hours, skimming regularly. If necesary add more
water to keep the bones covered. Strain the stock, skim off, and
discard any fat.

At serving time, arrange the sliced beef on a platter. Garnish with
reserved white and green onion. On another platter, arrange the
bean sprouts, coriander, chiles and limes. Meanwhile, plunge the
rice sticks in boilin water to heat. Drain. Place equal portions
in each soup bowl. Cover to keep warm. Heat beef stock to boiling.
Season with fish sauce and pepper. Pour into a soup tureen or
chafing dish. At the table, place the soup on a portable warmer to
keep hot. Offer each guest a bowl of warm rice noodles. Each diner
adds some beef and onion to a bowl. Ladle the hot stock over the
meat, stirring to cook the meat. Add the bean sprouts, coriander,
chiles, and lime to taste. Enjoy with chopsticks and a soup spoon.
Serves 6 to 8 portions.

Optional: pass fresh basil leaves, coriander, additional chilies,
fish sauce and ground peanuts at the table.


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