Pho (pronounced foe) is probably one of the most famous Vietnamese food. Those who are not familiar with it might think it is just another serving of flat noodles with beef soup, but that cannot be further from the truth.
The making of the Pho broth itself often takes hours, sometimes overnight to get the right balanced flavours. In Vietnam, Pho is traditionally a breakfast dish, but people around the world have adopted the recipe into a bowl of hearty flavours that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
What is a bowl of Pho
Essentially Pho is beef broth that is enjoyed with flat rice noodles and fresh herbs like mint but what makes it different than any other beef broth is how it is prepared.
Beef meat along with its bones is slow-cooked in a pot of water, sometimes overnight to get the rich flavour from the beef and bones to make the soup. Once the taste is thoroughly combined, the meat and bones are taken out, and the broth is strained to achieve a clear soup.
Pho is prepared immediately before serving with rice noodles, slices of raw beef that is cooked in the hot broth and a handful of bean sprouts, onions and mint leaves.
The History of Pho Beef
It is believed that the famous dish first appeared in the Nam Dinh and Hanoi district in North Vietnam in the late 1800s, after the French Colonisation. The word Pho itself is said to originate from the French word Feu, which loosely translates into fire.
While Pho is widely served with fresh herbs today, it wasn’t always the case back then. Pho bac which is said to be the most original version of Pho was served with only rice noodles and thinly sliced beef in a bone broth that has been brewing for several days.
After the Second World War, locals moved from the North to the South of Vietnam to escape the communist. With a new place comes a new recipe and the Pho Nam was introduced. Instead of simple rice noodles, beef slices and broth, the locals started brewing the soup with spices and added fresh herbs like basil and bean sprouts to the bowl. Until today, Pho Nam is still very popular in the streets of Saigon.
How to eat Pho
Remember the time when an American chef was heavily criticised by Vietnamese netizens for insulting the way a Pho is served and eaten? Don’t be that person. Of course, each bowl of Pho is unique to the one who eats it, but there are a few simple rules to follow.
The raw beef is added to the hot broth before adding in the additional herbs. Typically you are given basil, mint, bean sprouts, chilli and lime. You will also get extra condiments like Hoisin sauce and chilli paste for those who love spice. Vietnamese eats it with chopsticks, but if you don’t have the skill, a fork and knife are still acceptable.
Where to enjoy a bowl of Pho Beef in Malaysia
Almost every Vietnamese restaurant in town serves Pho Beef. Head on to Pho Vietz for a wide selection of Pho where you can get everything from Pho with Beef Tender Slices to Pho Ga (chicken Pho). You can find Pho Vietz in Empire Gallery Subang Jaya or One Utama.
Other than that, try the Pho Beef at Super Saigon which is guaranteed halal. They have branches in Bangsar, TTDI and even Hartamas.
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