Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a noodle and broth soup popular in Vietnam. Have you tried Pho? Don’t be intimidated. To take a little liberty with a quote from The Cat in the Hat:
It’s fun to have pho, but you have to know how.
The name is believed by some to have originated from the french dish “pot-au-feu,” a classic burgundian beef stew. The broth is generally beef (pho bo) or chicken (pho ga), and is made by cooking the meat and bones for a very long time, creating wonderful deep flavors.
Choose your pho
There are many types and variations of Pho:
My favorite is No. 17, chicken noodle. I order the child’s size, which is still too much for me to eat.
Personalize your pho
While you wait for your pho to be served, the waiter will bring your tray of fresh add-ins:
This will usually include bean sprouts, thai basil, jalapeño and lime. And then here comes the pho:
When the pho arrives, it is like a yummy chicken noodle soup. But that’s before you doctor it up. Don’t relax, you’ve got work to do. My local pho joint provides a “pho primer” to tell you how to turn the pho into your personalized culinary adventure:
My personal recipe starts with squeezing a lime wedge and adding Thai basil, fresh jalapeños and bean sprouts from the condiment plate. Then I add a little (just a splash — it is easy to add too much) fish sauce, to amp up that umami flavor:
Next I like to add some hoisin (a little sweet) and sriracha (a little spicy):
Whew! I’ve worked up an appetite, pho sure. Time to enjoy a wonderful Vietnamese noodle soup!
Here in the Cincinnati area, Pho 96 is my favorite place for Vietnamese pho. It is located in a strip mall in West Chester, Ohio. But don’t let the modest environment dissuade you — it is a spectacular meal.
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