July 21, 2014
Phở is a Vietanamese soup with [likely] meat, rice vermicelli noodles (bánh phở), a varied herb set, and a clear broth. The broth is often based on beef or chicken, but vegetarian versions have emerged.
The enormously flavorful broths of phở result from hours of cooking; eight is typical. Beef broths result from simmering meat-containing bones. Chicken broths result from the same with the possible inclusion of hearts, livers, and undeveloped eggs. Oxtails and flank steak also supplement beef broths. A combination of both is possible.
Other common ingredients for phở broths include star anise, Saigon cinnamon, black cardamom, coriander, clove, fennel seed, onions, and ginger. Oftentimes the latter two are roasted prior to immersion to enhance their flavors. Cheesecloth may be used to hold these ingredients as the broth simmers to allow them to be easily removed. Impurities are skimmed from the top as they appear to ensure the end broth is clear. Nước mắm (Vietnamese: fish sauce) is added at the end.
It is often served with a number of optional garnishes on the side. Culantro, cilantro, chilies, Thai basil, onions, lime, and bean sprouts. Sriracha is often present at the table.
The phở illustrated above is phở nạm, a phở of beef flank brisket with rice noodles. The optional accoutrements of Thai basil and bean sprouts were already added. Specifically it was served at Pho Xe Lua in Toronto’s China town.
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