Vietnamese Pho

I am so excited to launch a new, fresh look of my blog. As you may have guessed, the 3 girls represent my two darlings and me. A closer look reveals that my older daughter has a mint leaf hair clip while the younger one is wearing a red chili pepper. I’m sporting a star anise hair clip. Throw us in front a stack of cinnamon stick backdrop and you have the new look of The Spices of Life.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to my dear friend Ann who takes the precious time from her busy schedule as a mother, a wife, and a graphic designer to help me design this cool new look for the blog.

Vietnamese Pho

I will dedicate this blog of the quintessential Vietnamese noodle dish called pho (pronounced fuh) to Ann. Pho is a humble classic delicious Vietnamese noodle soup that must be served hot with the accompaniment of the classic herbs Thai basil, culantro (ngo gai) and bean sprout. Vietnamese Pho is my favorite. My bowl of Pho is always empty as I love to slurp every drop of the broth. I enjoy all types of Pho:

  • Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup)
  • Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup),
  • Pho Bo Vien (Beef Meatball Noodle Soup),
  • Pho Duoi Bo (Oxtail Noodle Soup)

Pho Dac Biet is the combination of any parts of the beef such as rare slice of steak, brisket, flank, tendon, stripe and meatball,etc..The three elements that make up of a bowl of flavorful Pho are the al dente rice noodles called Banh Pho, the flavorful, light but highly aromatic broth and last but not least, the meat. However, the pho broth is what makes the soup and gives it the distinct character. There’s not necessarily only one way to make pho broth, but a good pho broth must follow certain rules and standards.

Despite cooking Pho Ga or Pho Bo (Chicken Noodle Soup or Beef Noodle Soup), the essential ingredients that create the distinctive wonderful aroma of broth are charred ginger and onion; a bag of spices filled with star anise (hoa hồi), cinnamon stick (quế), whole cloves (đinh hương), fennel seed (hột ngò khô) and amomum costatum (thảo quả khô).

Pho Bo

I eliminate fish sauce in Pho broth as the fish sauce will produce the sour/bitter taste and cloud it. Instead, I serve fish sauce on a side. The white radish will be add to the broth toward the end to help keep the broth clear.

Pho broth

The most common way to cook Vietnamese beef noodle soup is simmering the beef marrow bones and beef knuckle bones for at least 3 hours until the marrow in the bones dissolve into the broth. Most of the time, I like to have oxtail, meatball and thinly slices of filet migon or rib eyes in my bowl of Pho. (Majority of restaurants use beef round eye but it’s not my favorite as the meat is tough though very lean and flavorful.) So I simmer ox tail along with beef bones as my husband and my girls love the texture of ox tail meat. Pho broth is flavorful when MSG is added. However, consuming MSG in food can trigger side effects including headaches and other symptoms for some people. Luckily I don’t have problem with MSG but just to be caution I avoid using MSG in my cooking. Instead, I use the mushroom vegetable seasoning.

Making Pho

Cooking a pot of Pho seems time-consuming but it’s definitely worth it. In no time, your family and friends will gather around the kitchen nook and enjoy hot steaming bowls of tasty and delicious Pho. Don’t be surprise to hear slurping – lots of slurping. It’s a sign that your Pho is second to none. So slurp away!


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