Pro Pho

Pho
 
Difficult for many people to pronounce--is it fuh? foe? (find the answer here), pho is a dish that defines a country. Even though Vietnamese cooking is varied and complex, pho is probably the food most familiar to foreigners. I fondly recall my first bowl of pho, slurped at a cozy neighborhood restaurant in Seattle. The aromatic broth combined with a dizzying array of garnishes created a taste sensation I had never before experienced. In one sip I was hooked.
 
Matt Robard at Food Republic recently traveled through Vietnam with four American chefs, and he brings back firsthand knowledge of the pho experience in its native land. One interesting tidbit Matt shares is that pho is a breakfast food in Vietnam. Another is that the term pho actually refers to the noodles (in Vietnam this mean freshly-made white rice noodles), not the broth. But even though the noodles are a major component of the soup, most pho is judged on the flavor of its broth. Traditionally, pho bo is made with beef bones, oxtail and flank, while pho ga is made with the whole chicken. (And while decidedly not traditional, there are many vegetarian versions of this iconic soup.)
 
Even though you may be tempted to load your pho with the many garnishes that accompany the soup, Matt advises to avoid making your soup a salad. Instead, he suggests you appreciate richness of the broth, highlighted by cinnamon and anise notes and featuring a hint of clove and cardamom, before loading it up with herbs. Now I'm hungry.
 
Photo courtesy Food Republic
 

4 Comments

  • sir_ken_g  on  3/4/2014 at 4:10 PM

    I have made pho for several years. You can also to a two-fer. Make broth for French Onion soup. Then simmer Pho soup spices in half of it.

  • Rinshin  on  3/4/2014 at 6:17 PM

    Love this article. Thanks for getting my pronunciation correct. Now I need to eat some fah---

  • Rinshin  on  3/4/2014 at 6:20 PM

    I'm curious how to pronounce the bo part as in pho bo. Is is like pho? pha-- bah--?

  • boardingace  on  3/5/2014 at 7:23 AM

    I've only had pho once, and while it was good, I wasn't bitten by the bug :) Yet :) However, I enjoyed learning more about it, and find it interesting that it's a breakfast food. Lately I've taken to having leftovers for breakfast, and in my experience just about anything is good for breakfast as long as it is tasty to start with :) Could be just me, though.

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