Pho

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This iconic Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup or Phở Bò is probably one of the most well-known noodles to come from Vietnam. It features succulent medium rare beef slices on top of the phở or noodles, together with some wonderfully fresh veggies and herbs that bring a fresh balance to the tasty and nutritious soup.


Phở originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam. The specific place of origin appears to be southwest of Hanoi in Nam Dinh province, then a substantial textile market, where cooks sought to please both Vietnamese (with local rice noodles, of Chinese origin) and French tastes (cattle were beasts of burden before the French arrived, not usually a source of beef). It was first sold by vendors from large boxes, until the first phở restaurant opened in the 1920s in Hanoi.

The variations in meat, broth and additional garnishes such as lime, bean sprouts, ngo gai (culantro), hung que (Thai/Asian basil), and tuong (bean sauce/hoisin sauce) appear to be innovations introduced in the south. Phở did not become popular in South Vietnam until 1954. And now, Phở Bò is considered one of Vietnam's sacred national dishes.
Phở is served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles (called bánh phở') in clear beef broth, with slim cuts of boiled beef (steak, fatty flan
k, lean flank, brisket). Variations feature tendon, tripe, meatballs in southern Vietnam. Chicken phở is made using the same spices as beef phở but the broth is made using only chicken bones and meat as well as some internal organs of the chicken such as the heart, the undeveloped eggs and the gizzard.

The broth for beef phở is generally made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, charred ginger and spices, taking several hours to prepare. Seasonings can include Saigon cinnamon or other kinds of cinnamon as alternatives (may use stick or powder), star anise, roasted ginger, roasted onion, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and clove.The broth takes several hours to make. For chicken phở, only the meat and bones of the chicken are used in place of beef and beef bone. The remaining spices remain the same but the charred ginger can be omitted since its function in beef pho is to get rid of the "cow's smell."
Typical garnishes for phở, clockwise from top left: onions, chili peppers, culantro, lime, bean sprouts, and Thai basil.

Today, phở was brought to many countries. It is especially popular in large cities with substantial Vietnamese populations and enclaves such as Paris, the West Coast of Canada, Texas, New Orleans, The Upper Midwest, the West Coast in the United States, and the immigrant areas of the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia.
 

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