PHO 101

How do you style your PHO? –

Garnishes that you add– bean sprouts, limes, jalapenos, Thai basil leaves, cilantro, sriracha, fish sauce, hoison sauce, chili paste, Soy Sauce

The Spice Giant – 4(+) jalapeño first for heat, 1 lime squeezed, 4 basil leaves shredded, moderate cilantro, 2 tbs sriracha,  2 tbs chili paste, minimal sprouts

The Englishman – 1 jalapeño, 3 limes, Thai basil leaves, .5 tbs sriracha, minimal cilantro, 1.5 tbs hoison, liberal sprouts usage

The Classic Bowl – 2 jalapeño, 2 limes, 10 Thai basil leaves, moderate cilantro,  3 shakes fish sauce, 1 tbs sriracha, moderate sprouts


How do you eat your PHO? –

Broth Rich – Eat all noodles and meat first, too full to finish the broth

Broth Poor – Eat all the broth first, no room for noodles

Well Balanced Attack – Chop sticks and spoon combo; one bite noodles/meat, followed by broth – alternate hands.

The Big Dipper – Put your favorite sauce into your garnish dish and dip the meat outside of the broth before eating

How did PHO come to be? –

Pho was born out of the fusion between Vietnamese and French cuisines in the late 1800s. Combining the French’s love for beef and beef based soups (Vietnamese did not eat beef until French colonization) with Vietnam’s abundant spice culture and use of rice noodles, the original concept pho was created. The origin of the word “pho” is not exactly known but many believe it comes from the French word feu, meaning fire; or pat au feu – pot on the fire.

Pho became popular in the North Vietnamese city of Hanoi, where street vendors sold the soup from dawn till dusk in heated cauldrons throughout the early part of the 20th century. This version of pho was different as many of us enjoy it here, as it was made with a clearer, more delicate broth (less complex spice profile) and was not served with the customary herbs and vegetables that we are used to in the US.

Once the popularity  spread all over Vietnam, people in the south started serving it with more spices in the broth and topping out with many fresh herbs and vegetables. Unbound by traditions of the north, southerners also started the usage of chili sauce and hoison for added flavor and begin serving chicken in addition to beef.

After the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese left as refugees and thus began the globalization of this once very regional dish. In the U.S., pho didn’t reach the mainstream until the mid 1990s, where it has become very popular all over. The southern style of serving pho, with the herbs, vegetables, and sauces is what primarily caught on throughout the states. Today, pho restaurants in the U.S. exceed $500 million in sales annually and continue to grow each year, as more and more Americans are realizing how delicious and comforting a bowl can truly be.Street Vendor