Pho is not only a traditional Vietnamese dish, but also considered as one of the typical dishes of Vietnamese cuisine. The main ingredient of Pho is noodles and broth with sliced beef or chicken eat together with some spices such as: soy sauce, pepper, lemon, fish sauce, chili, etc. These spices are added depending on the personal taste. Although Pho was used as a breakfast, people usually enjoy it at any time of day because of its flavor. This amazing dish is not only a popular street food in Vietnam but also the specialty of many restaurants around the world.
Pho appeared in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam, southeast of Hanoi in Nam Dinh Province, then a substantial textile market. The traditional home of Pho is reputed to be the villages of Van Cu and Dao Cu in Dong Xuan commune, Nam Truc District, Nam Dinh Province. According to villagers, Pho was eaten in Van Cu before the French colonial period when it was popularized.
Hanoi’s first two fixed Pho stands were a Vietnamese-owned Cat Tuong on Cau Go Street and a Chinese-owned stand in front of Hoan Kiem lake tram stop. They were joined in 1918 by two more on Hang Quat and Hang Dong street. Around 1925, a Van Cu villager named Van opened the first “Nam Dinh style” ho stand in Hanoi. Carrying pole declined in number around 1936–1946 in favor of stationary eateries.
In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees brought Pho to many countries. Restaurants specializing in pho appeared in numerous Asian enclaves and Little Saigon, such as in Paris and in major cities in the United States, Canada and Australia. In 1980, the first of hundreds of pho restaurants opened in the Little Saigon in Orange County, California.
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In the United States, pho began to enter the mainstream during the 1990s, as relations between the U.S. and Vietnam improved. At that time, Vietnamese restaurants began opening quickly in Texas and California, spreading rapidly along the Gulf and West Coasts, as well as the East Coast and the rest of the country. During the 2000s, Pho restaurants in the United States generated US$500 million in annual revenue, according to an unofficial estimate. Pho can now be found in cafeterias at many college and corporate campuses, especially on the West Coast.
The word “pho” was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2007. Pho is listed at number 28 on “World’s 50 most delicious foods” compiled by CNN Go in 2011.
Pho is served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket). Variations feature tendon, tripe, or meatballs in southern Vietnam. Chicken pho is made using the same spices as beef, but the broth is made using only chicken bones and meat, as well as some internal organs of the chicken, such as the heart, the undeveloped eggs and the gizzard.
The broth for beef pho is generally made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, charred ginger and spices. For a more intense flavor, the bones may still have beef on them. Chicken bones also work and produce a similar broth. Seasonings can include Saigon cinnamon or other kinds of cinnamon as alternatives (may use usually in stick form, sometimes in powder form in pho restaurant franchises overseas), star anise, roasted ginger, roasted onion, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and clove. The broth takes several hours to make. For chicken pho, only the meat and bones of the chicken are used in place of beef and beef bone. The remaining spices remain the same, but the charred ginger can be omitted, since its function in beef pho is to subdue the quite strong smell of beef.
The spices, often wrapped in cheesecloth or soaking bag to prevent them from floating all over the pot, usually contain: clove, star anise, coriander seed, fennel, cinnamon, black cardamom, ginger and onion.
Careful cooks often roast ginger and onion over an open fire for about a minute before adding them to the stock, to bring out their full flavor. They also skim off all the impurities that float to the top while cooking; this is the key to a clear broth. Fish sauce is added toward the end.
Source: CNN Travel/Oxford English Dictionary/collect & edit0