Phở is a Vietnamese food pronounced “fuh” (click here to get the full pronunciation).
The meat based (usually beef) broth is clear and includes fried shallots, anise, cinnamon, annatto seeds, lemongrass, cloves and coriander. The spices will vary depending on the type of phở you are making. Charring the shallot or leek and the ginger is what makes this soup taste so sweet. The soup broth is always strained with a sieve before serving. If you are making this broth from scratch you will want to use soup bones made of knuckles and leg bones with the right amount of marrow. Beef legs are precut and bagged. Precooked rice noodles accompany the broth.
When you eat phở, all of the herbs, vegetables, and mung beans are left to the side. If you order the phở tái then you add the raw, tender, sliced meat (pictured above) and it is cooked inside the broth as you sit and eat. You may add a little at a time, or all at once. Unless you ask at Phở 79 specifically for the beef on the side, it will come precooked.
If you order phở vien that will come with these exquisite little meatballs made of beef.
The plate served with the broth will include cilantro, jalapeno, basil, sliced lime wedge and mung beans. All of these are also added to the broth and eaten all together.
The two sauces included are a homemade variety of siracha, and also hoisin sauce, which is a sweet sauce made up of soy and sugar and spices.
I add both sauced directly onto my noodles as I eat the phở.
The noodles, it is worth mentioning, are an art form of themselves. Comprised of rice flour and water, then dried, you cannot boil them. Depending on the size of the rice noodle you purchase you must soak it in warm/hot water for a period of time. I could write, and will, an entire post just on the varieties of noodles.
Pho 79 is located at 7310 W. State Street, Boise, Idaho, (208) 853-8889. They serve both Vietnamese and Chinese food, so you can also order the treat pork and seeds.
Vietnamese food is traditionally made with fresh herbs and vegetables, vibrant colors and lots of flavor. The French influence makes for an incredibly dynamic cultural food journey. There is no way I could summarize Vietnamese cooking in my blog, and do so properly, so I suggest learning more about this culture and food.
This week I will be highlighting a number of herbs and vegetables that may be unfamiliar to you. Enjoy.