Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What the Pho?

Special Pho Noodle Soup, Rice Fusion Cuisine, Salt Lake City, UT

What is Pho? First, I want make sure you all know the correct pronunciation. It is not "foo", or "foh". It is fuh, as in the F-bomb. Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup that comes in a variety of flavors.

Pho is prepared by boiling beef bones on high for 10 minutes, draining and rinsing the foamy water, then fill a large stock pot with water, add the beef bones, various spices, and slowly simmer for 6-8 hours. Then cook rice noodles, place in a Olympic size bowl, then place thinly sliced raw meat on the noodles, add cilantro and other garnishes, then spoon the hot broth over the noodles, cooking the meat.

A proper Pho should come to your table with medium rare meat. If it has already cooked to well done, it sat in the kitchen for 30 seconds too long. To eat Pho, place the bean sprouts in the bowl, squeeze the lime juice in and drop the lime rind in the bowl. The big leafy stick that is on the plate is fresh anise. This is what they make black licorice out of, but don't let that get you down. Anise has a good flavor when added to Pho. I like my Pho with Sriracha (rooster brand) sauce and hoisin sauce, or "brown sauce". The Sriracha gives it a kick, the hoisin, a savory sweet nuance of flavor. I also like adding chili garlic paste if available. Some restaurants use a cheap cut of beef for Pho and that is ok, but make sure it comes to your table still medium rare. Well done and it will taste like dried pot roast. I enjoy scooping out noodles with my chopsticks, slurping them up, and alternating with dips into the broth with the spoon.

Pho is one of my favorite foods, and if you haven't tried it yet, go grab some friends and find a "hole in the wall" Vietnamese restaurant. Many places have the word "Pho" in their name, and if they do, they probably specialize in it. These small family owned restaurants are some of the best. Sound off in the comments-- what do you like about Pho?

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

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