Sunday Night Soups: Pho Bo

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2 large onions, halved lengthwise

1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, left unpeeled

1 tb peanut oil

4 lb meaty cross-cut beef shanks (sometimes called beef shins; 1 1/2 inches thick), oxtails or other meaty beef bones.

1 lb fresh (uncured) brisket

7 qt cold water

1 Pho sachet,* or:

6 whole star anise,

3 sticks cinnamon,

1 tablespoon cardamom pods,

1 tablespoon black peppercorns and

8 whole cloves

1 (1/2-lb) piece boneless beef sirloin steak or tenderloin

1 lb dried rice noodles (banh pho)

1 lb bean sprouts

4 limes, quartered

1 bunch basil, cilantro, or mint, rinsed and stemmed

Asian fish sauce (preferably Vietnamese nuoc mam), or to taste

Vietnamese chili paste (sriracha) (Huy Fong is a good brand.)

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