By Leslie Radford
Vietnam’s most famous dish, pho (pronounced “fuh”), is gaining popularity amongst Americans. You can find it in most Asian restaurants around the country. There are even eateries that exclusively offer this delicious soup dish. It’s a fun dish with endless possibilities.
Because of its inexpensive ingredients, one could consider it the “fast food” of Vietnamese culture and is a hodgepodge of various ingredients. Note that “inexpensive” doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy and filling. The base of this warm and cozy soup is noodles and a meat broth (usually either chicken or beef). Other ingredients are added for different flavor experiences, from carrots and turnips to ginger and cinnamon bark and so much more. Add condiments and fresh garnishes such as fish sauce, sriracha, bean sprouts, or jalapeno to add to the complexity of enjoyable flavors. It really depends on your palate what goes into your soup. Whether you like sweet, salty, spicy, or savory, there’s a bowl of pho for everyone.
Probably the most fun thing about pho is how you eat it: Use chops sticks, spoons, and even tilt your bowl and slurp up the holy goodness that is the broth! Think of it as a triple threat: Chopsticks go in your dominant hand, the spoon goes in the opposite hand (yes, double-fisted eating) and at the end, slurp away! Traditionally a breakfast food, you can eat pho any time of day.
Not sure what to order? Have fun experimenting! Some ingredients on the menu can be intimidating. Start with what you know and grow from there. Be sure to ask the chef if you have questions about the fixings. Pho is meant to be adventurous and no two phos are ever alike. You’ll have to play with the mixtures of spices and seasonings to find your perfect bowl of pho.