Pho The Best Vietnamese Soup
Have you ever eaten some bad food and gotten sick or eaten junk food? I remember when my dad was on a cruise with my family for my grandparent’s 50th anniversary. About the second day in my dad was as sick as a dog. He couldn’t even get up. We had to bring simple food to his room. It turns out he had gotten food poisoning and on a Disney cruise, a renowned company. I HATE it when that happens, and I never want it to happen to you. That is why I will try my best to help you as much as I can. Let me tell you about Pho soup!
Vietnam is crawling with unhealthy food, especially street food. Almost all street food is either unhealthy for you, and sometimes it will make you sick. (note: I have only been ill once, and that was not street-food, but that is for another story.) But there is one food for you that is very tame and is the cleanest street food there is. It will hardly ever make you sick. The food is called Pho soup. Maybe the secrets of how people make Pho will enlighten and help you to understand precisely why it is healthy.
How it is made?
If you do not like cooking, then learning how to make Pho is not for you. If made correctly, it can take hours upon hours to make it, but interestingly enough, only one part will take hours. They complete the other preparations in a few minutes. What kind of food would take hours and hours to make?
The broth is what takes hours upon hours to make. Some people wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, waiting three or four hours for the broth to finish and then start selling at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. Talk about commitment.
Why does the sauce take so long to make?
Vietnamese people generally make the sauce from simmering the beef bones, meat, onions, ginger, and other spices for hours on end until the taste is too amazing not to pass up.
The Vietnamese people then add the cooked meat to the broth. You have a grab bag of different meats, so you never know what you are going to get. It could be steak, fatty flank, lean flank, or brisket. I love the meat in the Pho and would not give that up for anything. If you have ever read my bun cha post, you can see I am a meat guy. Here is a link to my Bun cha post. Please click here.
It is then garnished with green onions and fresh onions to add a great taste.
It seems very bland tasting, but the meat and the broth make these noodles come to life. You can also add lime to get a little zing to it.
As everything in Vietnam, Pho has a history, so why is Pho so famous in Vietnam?
Why is Pho Important to Vietnamese people?
Pho was thought to have come around in the early 1900s. During this time, France ruled the Vietnam colonies, and Vietnam was yet to be an independent country. The Vietnamese liked noodles, and the French liked beef. The two merged to form their version Pho, coming from the French word Pot-au-feu meaning the fiery bowl.
Many people today have argued where the word Pho has come from, and most still do not know.
At first, the dish was only sold in the morning and at night by people on mobile kitchens. They would carry a bowl of boil broth on one side and all the ingredients on another. At first, it was only accessible in the North by impoverished workers and the south had never heard of food called Pho, but when the split of Vietnam happened in 1954 thousands upon thousands of northerners fled the communist North to the south, bringing with them their traditional Pho.
What was once not accessible in the south shot off, with two different sides meeting, they came up with different versions of the same food.
After the Vietnam war, hundreds of refugees fled to different countries, bringing with them their food and culture. One of these foods was Pho. It is now one of the most famous Vietnamese foods worldwide. In Alabama, it has become very famous with many of my friends. They seem to enjoy it as well as myself.
But as you know, food always changes. I bet when your mom gave you her secret recipe, and you began to make it, it was modified to fit your family’s tastes. I remember my mom had a food called hamburger junk; it tastes better than it sounds. It evolved when given to me and probably evolved when my mom got it.
how has Pho changed from the original?
As the Vietnamese began to migrate to other countries and even to South Vietnam, they brought with them their Pho making skills. As you know, every country is accustomed to its type of food, so when a restaurant makes an exotic food, there is disgust or shock in most everyone’s face. I bet you might also show disgust if you saw dog or cat meat on a menu.
It has to be adapted to that country or to the tastes of that region. My mom always makes a disgusting face when the word sushi is brought up, the thought of eating raw fish is just disgusting, but in Japan, it is perfectly normal. In America, we took some of the sushi and cooked it, allowing people to eat sushi in an adapted American way.
This is precisely what happened to Pho. I have not been to the south, but I have heard from friends about how they are different. When it came to the south, it changed and morphed into something different. It is sweeter and spicier. There are also more vegetables added, including green herbs, cilantro, limes, bean sprouts, basil and sometimes chili. The south also contains more meat, which is always a plus in my book.
Back in the 1930s, they did not sell beef on Monday and Friday, do not ask me why I do not know, to make up for this many people began using chicken as a substitute. This became very famous and was soon picked up as a second form of Pho both in the North and South.
If you travel outside of Vietnam, you can find Pho in almost any country, but there is a big difference. For example, in America, they make the Pho to fit a westerner’s tongue. They have significantly bigger portions and a sweeter taste with more meat. Before I came to Vietnam, I noticed the feeling of Pho in America definitely had a fattier taste. As an American, I prefer the Pho that comes from America, rather than Pho in Vietnam. The main reason is more meat and more flavor.
An American friend told me that they copy Pho from the Southern Vietnamese Style, rather than the Northern Style.
How much does Pho cost?
Pho is an inexpensive dish for the taste. It can come with both chicken and beef can run for about 35.000-40.000. You can easily find places anywhere that sells this wonderful dish. The one by my street, although not the best sell it for 25.000. You can even go to a sit-down restaurant and get it for 65.000, which is super expensive, but probably super clean.
If you ever come to Vietnam definitely get a piping hot bowl of Pho as they are on every street. If you have no plans of going to Vietnam, there will probably be a Pho restaurant near you, so check it out, it might even be more suited towards your taste.