Pho Recipes, A Simple Honest Cuisine

Pho Recipes, A Simple Honest Cuisine

The success of this dish depends on the full-flavored stock, for which there is no quick substitute. Even though it takes a long time to cook, it is well worth the effort. The stock can be made in advance and frozen, making it easy to put the dish together when required.

Pho epitomizes what is considered a honest cuisine. Simple and pure in flavor, it appeals to all the senses. For the eyes pho offers an intriguing composition of carefully arranged layers of noodles, vegetables and meat surrounded by a shimmering broth that was clearly boiling in its stockpot only moments ago. Leaning over the bowl you inhale deeply to capture the heady aroma of the rich broth spiced with anise, cloves and roasted ginger and the delicate fragrance of fresh basil, cilantro (and sometimes even mint).

Working nimbly with chopsticks and spoon, you fill your mouth with the rich feel of well prepared stock, the chew of the slippery noodle and textured meat, and the crunch of bean sprouts or other vegetables cooked only by the broth that envelops them. The flavors you smelled evolve in your mouth, the beefy goodness (and sweet heat too if you added a squirt of chili sauce) intensifying and subsiding, delicately coating your tongue and warming the back of your throat. As you eat you are entertained by the alternating sounds of slurping noodles and sipping soup. A bowl of pho is simultaneously a transcendent, humble and happy experience, and clearly plain old good eats.

At it's core, pho can truly be considered a cultural and political statement. And, like any subject that instills such levels of passion, there is anything but unanimity about how pho came to be or, indeed, what goes into it. Pho appears to be the soup equivalent of barbecue. Every pho cook has his or her own rules of what can and cannot go into the bowl, and even how it should go into the bowl. Are bean sprouts authentic? If so, are they served in the soup, or on the side with fresh basil for the diner to add as desired? Is basil OK? How about mint? Cilantro? Care to finish it off with a squeeze of lime, or lemon?

To the pho fanatics the preceding questions contain nothing but fighting words.

>> Beef Pho Recipe

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