Vietnamese noodles soup is primarily served with either beef or chicken broth, and consists of linguine-shaped rice noodles, a few herbs and spices, and meat. Pho is a such popular street food in Vietnam, that it has branched out and migrated around the world. Southern Vietnamese eat it for breakfast and occasionally lunch, whereas Northern Vietnamese consume it at any time of day.
Pho originated in the early 20th century in Northern Vietnam, and was popularized throughout the rest of the world by refugees after the Vietnam War. Because phoís origins are poorly documented, there is significant disagreement over the cultural influences that led to its development in Vietnam. Pho was originally sold at dawn and dusk by roaming street vendors, who shouldered mobile kitchens on carrying poles.
With the Partition of Vietnam in 1954, over a million people fled North Vietnam for South Vietnam. Pho, previously unpopular in the South, suddenly took off. No longer confined to northern culinary traditions, variations in meat and broth appeared, with additional garnishes.
After the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees brought pho to many countries. Restaurants specializing in pho first appeared in numerous Vietnamese communities, such as in Paris, Canada, Australia, and in major cities in the United States, with more than 2,000 Pho Restaurants.
The word "pho" was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2007. Pho is listed as number 28 on "World's 50 most delicious and nutritious foods" compiled by CNN in 2011.
The broth for beef pho is generally made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, beef drop flanks, fatty briskets, charred onions, charred ginger and spices, such as: cinnamon, star anise, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and clove. The broth takes at least twelve hours or more to make, with the addition of fish sauce towards the end.
The dish is garnished with ingredients such as, green onions, white onions, cilantro, Thai basil (not to be confused with sweet basil), bean sprouts, fresh chili peppers, and lemon or lime wedges. Fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha sauce) may be added to accompany individual taste buds.
Pho is served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, "A comprehensive menu will offer a wide assortment of meats and trimmings. If you're new to the pleasure of pho, you may want to order the most basic meat selection: rare slices of beef steak. A bowl of beef pho will please even the most finicky eaters. If you prefer a more traditional pho experience, include cooked slices of tender beef drop flank in your order: pho beef drop flank. The more experimental you feel, and the higher your tolerance for fatty cuts and more "exotic" fare, the further down the menu you will venture. Beef tendon and tripe, thinly sliced beef stomach lining, provide chewy and crunchy texture. Not all restaurants offer beef meatballs, but they can be a tasty addition to your pho if they are of high quality.
Experiencing your Pho
Resist the urge to dive into your hot bowl of pho immediately after it is placed in front of you. A little patience and adherence to the following will enhance and enlighten your pho experience.
Step One: Season your pho.
Lift your spoon and sample the steamy broth. If the broth is a little bland, add a dash of fish sauce. Not too much, just a little at
first, and more if you need it. Next, add a sprinkle of black pepper and squeeze an entire wedge of lemon or lime into your bowl.
Step Two: Add herbs and sprouts.
Add about a handful of beansprouts to your pho. Use your chop-sticks to push them down to the bottom of the bowl. Make sure to submerge any pieces of rare beef that are still pink as well. Next, add some Thai Basil leaves to your bowl, after removing them from the stems. If your pho restaurant serves saw-leaf herb, tear 2-3 of them into one inch long pieces and place them in your pho as well. Lastly, for spicy lovers only, add 3-4 slices of serrano chili into your pho.
Step Three: Preparing for dipping sauce.
Squeeze some hoisin sauce and sriracha chili into a small saucer. A 50/50 split is recommended, but use less sriracha if you are sensitive to spicy foods. Mix the two sauces together where they meet along the border using the tip of your chopsticks. Take a taste of your creation. At this point some like to add a splash of hoisin or sriracha chili to the broth. Purists frown on this practice, but to each his own.
Step Four: Time to eat.
You are now ready to enjoy your pho! Use your chopsticks and spoon to evenly mix all the ingredients in your bowl. Pair pieces of beef with Thai basil, saw-leaf herb, or a slice of serrano chili - dip into the hoisin sauce / siracha chili mixture you made in Step Three, and eat. Donít forget to sip the broth in between bites of noodles and beef. Enjoy!î