Pho is one of the hottest culinary trends right now and people are falling in love with this tasty bowl of Vietnamese cuisine. But what is it? Don’t be fooled by faux pho. Get to know the real dish and start to experiment with the variations you can try.
What is Pho?
Back to the basic question: what is pho? The simple answer is that pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup. Flavorful broth, a mix of vegetables and meat like beef or chicken and served with fresh toppings. That’s the simple answer. This isn’t some 5-minute variation of ramen. It’s a complex dish. Keep reading to find out more.
Broth for pho is traditionally made over many hours, as you simmer various cuts of beef (shank, oxtail, shin and others). Yes, you can make quicker versions of pho with boxed beef broth, but that’s not the real way to make it. Pho can be made with other meats, like chicken, duck or seafood. Vegetarian versions with just vegetables or tofu can work too. True pho is almost always beef though.
Spices are added to the broth until it’s bursting with flavor. This is where all the different recipes come in. There are a mix of common herbs and spices that go into most pho dishes:
- star anise
Fish sauce is also popular, but you usually add that right at the end to keep the flavor fresh.
To finish making the pho, you serve the hot broth over cooked rice noodles. It can be served with cooked meat (leftovers from when you make the broth), or it is served with fine slices of raw meat. If your broth is hot enough, it should cook thin meat in just a few moments as you wait and garnish up your bowl.
To finish the dish, you serve with a wide array of toppings, sauces and garnishes so that each person can create their own bowl. This is what makes pho special. Here are come common garnishes for good pho:
- slices of lime
- chopped ginger
- chopped cilantro
- raw bean sprouts
- chopped basil
- sliced scallions
- additional pieces of meat
- chili sauce
- hoisin sauce
Each person picks and chooses their own additions to their soup, trying the different tastes and flavors with each bite.
There you have it, the full story of pho. To say that it’s just “noodle soup” is really not the whole picture.
How to Pronounce Pho
You can’t have a discussion about pho recipes without explaining the obvious question about the word “pho”. How is it said?
If you are thinking that is sounds like faux or foe, you are unfortunately incorrect, even though most people make that common mistake. Pho is pronounced more properly as “fuh”. Of course, if you start talking about “fuh”, your average person may not have a clue what you’re talking about.
Here at World of Pho
So what can you expect here on our pho site? Well, we’re not limiting our recipes to only the truly “traditional” and you’ll find lots of variations, including a whole range of different tastes and many that are quick to make because they use pre-made broth or stock. It’s all good. That’s why we’re the “world of pho”, and not just “traditionally made in one way pho”.