Pho

The soup that is much more than it seems and is yours to discover
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A dish that appears simple but is very complex and is the result of a peoples' history; their triumphs, tribulations, travels, and influences.

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Pho with raw beef, meatballs, brisket and tripe
History

As for the birthplace of pho, a couple of theories point to Nam Dinh province, southwest of Hanoi. One argument is that ingenious cooks in Nam Dinh City (once a major textile center) satisfied the gastronomic desires of Vietnamese and French residents by inventing the dish using local ingredients (e.g., rice noodles) and adding du boeuf for a bit of foreign extravagance. (Before the French occupation, cows in Vietnam were cherished work animals, not food sources.)

Another theory attempted to trace pho to the small impoverished village of Van Cu in Nam Dinh province. During the 20th century, as a means of survival, nearly all Van Cu villagers turned to making and peddling pho 50 miles away in Hanoi. Consequently, many pho vendors in the capital today are from that village. For more Vietworldkitchen.com

My Taste opinion

What can I say but I always love a good bowl of Pho, it is so tasty and healthy how can this not be more widely pushed as a healthy alternative to a greasy hamburger for lunch. The Vietnamese got this dish right when they developed it. Fills you up but does not leave you feeling like you ate a heavy meal. Use to love the Chinese soup but the Vietnamese Pho is better. Also it is a soup that I get to add to as I like, with various ingredients as I want

The broth

I find the broth to be one of the best things about Pho as it is unlike any other soup I have tried. It should be aromatic with the smell of such spices star anise, whole cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and others hitting your senses first. The broth should have not have too much fat on top but depending on what you ask to have in it you may have a little more or less. As you add the lime, bean sprouts, mint, hot sauce or hosin sauce the flavour changes. You truly can start with one soup and end with another if you slowly add each item. Try that with a hamburger.

I always start with just smelling the Pho, I am looking for the right combinations of spices that tell me a Pho master is at work. If it does not smell right, the rest of the meal is not the same. Like wine you slowly become able to smell the difference between good and bad Pho. Next I taste the pho broth with out putting anything in it first. Again I look for the taste that the smell indicated was to follow. I then will taste the noodles and lastly start adding various ingredients as I like.
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You can see the green onions and cilantro. The cloudiness is due to the raw beef jucies cooking in the broth.
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The noodles

The noodles are Rice vermicelli noodles that are made with rice and water.

The noodles slowly absorb some of the soup so they get softer towards the end. The noodles have a good mouth appeal and are easy to pick up with chopsticks.

I like eating them by putting hosin sauce on them as I hold them up to eat them.

There are also yellow egg noodle by request


Vegetables

The soup comes with thinly sliced onions on top.

On the side:

Bean sprouts either raw or quickly steamed.

Hot pepper

Lime

Thai basil: It has a more assertive taste than many other sweet basils. The herb has small leaves, purple stems and a subtle licorice or mint flavor. Basil is most commonly associated with Italian and Thai Cuisine. It's not commonly known that basil originated in India. It was brought to the Mediterranean via the spice routes in ancient times. Basil spread to other parts of Asia, and became popular in the use of curries in Thailand.

Basil: Vitamin E, Riboflavin and Niacin, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.


Culantro: The appearance of culantro and cilantro are different but the leaf aromas are similar, although culantro is more pungent. Culantro is native to continental tropical America and the West Indies and has become more popular in North America for use in ethnic dishes.


culantro: reportedly rich in calcium, iron, carotene, riboflavin, excellent source of vitamin A, B2, B1, and C


Meat

Eye of round steak: Lean beef sliced thinly placed on top of the soup and cocked only as you stir it into the steaming broth

Meatballs: Beef meatball that have a unique texture (from the tapioca starch) and a great taste.


Brisket: cooked lean beef thinly sliced that is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of the cow.

Flank: beef from the belly of the cow, it has a little bit of fat. The fat is said to give the soup more flavour

Fatty flank: Flank with more fat

Crunchy flank:

For the advanced Pho eater try:

tripe: stomach of the cow, gives added texture and flavour to the soup. I like the crunch and it actually tastes good.

tendon: Well-tenderized tendons give a contrasting gelatinous texture to the chewier meat. It is high in protein and actually quite tasty when cooked properly.


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Raw beef after cooking in the hot broth
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Homemade Hot chilli oil sauce (large piece of garlic showing)


Condiments


The condiments we have available are:

Asian style hot sauce: It's made from sun-ripened chilies which are ground with vinegar and salt then blended with garlic and sugar into a smooth paste.

Hoisin sauce: Hoisin sauce ingredients include water, sugar, soybeans, white distilled vinegar, rice, salt, wheat flour, garlic, and red chili peppers

Homemade hot chili oil sauce: that consists of garlic and chili peppers sautéed and mixed with various spices. It puts a unique kick in whatever you are eating. As it is made on site it is a taste you will only have when you eat at Mui Ngo Gai. It is not just for the soup but it is also for all the food. I suggest adding it later as I like to taste the food with nothing first then slowly add flavours as I go. Called ớt sa tế or ớt satế in Vietnamese

Salt and pepper

Red chilies contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene ("provitamin A").In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, and vitamin B6 in particular. They are very high in potassium and high in magnesium and iron. Their high vitamin C content can also substantially increase the uptake of non-heme iron from other ingredients in a meal, such as beans and grains.


Garlic has been used for years as a healthy addition to food.


Nutrition


Serving Size:
11/2 cup
Calories 425 % DV**
Total Fat 7 g 11%
Sat. Fat 2 g 10% Cholesterol 37 mg 12% Sodium 400 mg 17% Total Carbs. 59 g 10% Dietary Fiber 2 g 8%
Sugars -
Protein 28 g
Calcium 43 mg
Potassium 616 mg


Interesting Pho sites

There is a great site for those who love the taste of Pho: Pho Fever it has such things as Pho facts, fashion, restaurant finder, photos, links, and a blog.