The Untold Truth Of Pho

Noodles can be made with a variety of ingredients, but rice noodles have a place of honor in Southeast Asia, where they are served fried (like Pad Thai), or in a soup, like Vietnamese pho (pronounced "fuh"). The stars of a good pho are a delicately perfumed broth and rice noodles (via Insider), and a selection of toppings that go from the mundane, like thinly-sliced raw beef, to the exotic like beef tendons and beef stomach. These are just the add-ins which allow you to customize your Vietnamese noodle soup in any way you prefer (via Pho Fever). 

Walkabout Monkey says the dish has several origin stories, including one that claims that the noodle soup hails from a small community near the Red River, located in the North of Vietnam. Another says it was invented when Vietnamese called the broth made with boiled bones and scraps of beef "fuh," which sounds similar to the French word "feu" (as in pot-au-feu). There is also the claim that Chinese workers brought the soup to Northern Vietnam during the early 20th century. The dish itself reached the shores of the U.S. in the 1970s when Vietnamese were fleeing their country's civil war (via Pho Fever).

The star of any pho is its broth

The regions of North and South Vietnam eat their pho in different ways. Pho Fever says northerners enjoy a more simple dish; for the south, piling on different types of garnish is key. But no matter what style your pho might be, to love a good bowl of pho is to appreciate its broth — which is made by simmering chicken or beef bones along with spices like onions and ginger for hours, or even days if you have the time. This aromatic broth is poured into a bowl where rice noodles and whisper-thin slices of raw beef have been laid out and pre-arranged. Diners needn't worry about the presence of raw beef — the broth is meant to be hot enough to cook the meat (via The Kitchn).

Every bowl of pho comes with almost identical garnishes: bean sprouts, lemon or lime wedges, basil, scallions, cilantro, and chilies. Pho Fever says scallions and cilantro are usually laid on top of your bowl before it is served, and it is up to you to decide what garnishes can go into your soup when you are ready to enjoy the noodle soup. For an extra ambrosial kick, a dollop of chili sauce is recommended. But if the sauce is needed to add flavor to the broth, then it might be time for you to look for another pho restaurant.