Vietnamese soup or “Phở” in the local language is one of only three Vietnamese words that have earned their official entry into the Oxford dictionary, it is one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes in the world. It is even considered by foreigners the national dish of Vietnam. On the Internet, you can find a site dedicated to the dish: www.lovingpho.com
What makes this dish so appealing?
First of all, we would like to explain what phở soup is. It is a dish made of rice noodles _ bánh phở, and a beef broth. What is special about this broth is that it is cooked for quite a long time, preferably 2-3 days, with beef bones, roasted onion, star anise, cinnamon sticks, ginger and brown cardamom. This combination of spices gives it an extraordinary smell, which is perfect for starting a day in an exotic country. In addition, it is seasoned with fragrant herbs: coriander, Thai basil, spring onion, etc., which add a fresh note to the dish. At the last moment, each person adjusts, according to his taste, lemon or vinegar wing nails; chilli sauce or slices of bird’s eye chilli.
So what is the best Vietnamese soup?
It is the pho bac
This dish comes from the north of the country and uses a beef broth. Another version also very popular in Hanoi is chicken phở. The famous dish is also eaten very differently in different regions: in the North, the broth is king, while the Southern phở features more garnishes (aromatic herbs, minced onion with vinegar); a Southern phở bowl is never short of bean sprouts, while the Northern one never contains any; the broth of Nam Định soup goes better with vinegar than with lemon; and the Californian version is served with giant portion, comparing with the Vietnamese one…
This dish of subtle taste is, suitable for breakfast, but can also be eaten at any time of the day. In Hanoi, the place of pilgrimage for phở soup lovers, there are famous places to eat it, each dedicated to a specific time of day. Vietnamese soup is such a treat that it has become an unofficial ritual for Vietnamese returning to their country after a long journey to have a bowl of phở as their first dish at home.
Vietnamese soup lovers in Hanoi all know Didier Corlou, the former executive chef of Hanoi’s Metropole, the Frenchman who fell in love with Hanoi and phở for over 20 years. On his favourite dish, he observed, “It doesn’t matter what you cook it with. In the end, Vietnamese soup will remain what it was before: the vanity of Hanoians.”
To finish a simplified introduction to this “pho” soup, and perhaps to start your love for this dish, we present to you what Nguyen Tuan, one of our greatest contemporary writers, and one of the greatest cultural researchers on Hanoi, has to say about it: “I find that among the innumerable and fertile realities of the Vietnamese people, there is an essential one, it is the “pho” […] one single mouthful and here is that one savour all the immensity, the richness, the beauty of the country.