Pho Recipe

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vietnamese soup pho bo

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that has gained immense popularity in recent years. It is a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for any time of the day, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The dish consists of rice noodles, broth, herbs, and meat, usually beef or chicken.

Pho is a dish that has a long history in Vietnam, with its origins dating back to the early 20th century. It was originally a street food that was sold by vendors who would carry a large pot of broth and a basket of ingredients on a shoulder pole. Today, pho is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine and can be found in restaurants all over the world.

Making pho at home may seem intimidating, but it is actually quite simple. With the right ingredients and a little bit of patience, anyone can make a delicious bowl of pho. There are many variations of the dish, and each recipe has its own unique twist. In this article, we will explore some of the best pho recipes available and provide tips for making the perfect bowl of pho at home.

History of Pho


Pho is a popular Vietnamese dish that has become well-known around the world. The origins of pho can be traced back to the early 20th century in northern Vietnam. It is believed that pho was created in Hanoi, which was the capital of Vietnam at the time. Pho was initially sold by street vendors, who would carry a large pot of broth and rice noodles on a pole across their shoulders.

The exact origin of the name “pho” is unclear. Some believe that it comes from the French word “feu” (fire), which is pronounced similarly to “pho” and refers to the boiling of the beef bones used to make the broth. Others believe that it comes from the Vietnamese word “phở” (to slice), which refers to the thin slices of beef used in the dish.

Regional Variations

Over time, pho has evolved and developed regional variations. The two most common types are pho bo (beef pho) and pho ga (chicken pho). Pho bo is made with beef bones, while pho ga is made with chicken bones. Both versions include rice noodles, herbs, and spices.

In the northern region of Vietnam, pho is typically served with a clear broth and thin slices of beef. In the southern region, the broth is darker and sweeter, and the dish is often served with beef meatballs. In addition, some regions add additional ingredients to the dish, such as tripe, tendon, or chicken feet.

Overall, pho has become a beloved dish in Vietnam and around the world. Its popularity can be attributed to its delicious and complex flavors, as well as its comforting and satisfying nature.

Essential Ingredients

Broth Basics

The key to a great pho recipe is the broth. To make a flavorful broth, it is important to use a combination of beef bones, charred onions, and ginger, along with spices like star anise, cinnamon, and coriander. Some recipes also call for fish sauce and rock sugar to add a sweet and savory flavor to the broth. The bones should be simmered for several hours to extract all the rich flavors and nutrients.


Traditionally, pho is made with beef, but chicken and tofu are also popular options. Beef cuts like brisket, flank, and sirloin are commonly used, as well as beef meatballs. Chicken breast or thighs can be used for a lighter option. Tofu is a great vegetarian option that can be marinated in soy sauce and other spices for added flavor.


The noodles used in pho are typically made from rice flour and come in different thicknesses. The thinner noodles are better suited for lighter broths, while the thicker noodles hold up well in heartier broths. It is important to cook the noodles separately and add them to the broth just before serving to prevent them from becoming too soft.


Garnishes are an important part of any pho recipe and can include a variety of herbs, vegetables, and condiments. Some popular options include bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, lime wedges, sliced jalapenos, and hoisin sauce. These garnishes can be added to the broth or used as toppings for the protein and noodles.

Broth Preparation

Traditional Techniques

Pho broth is the heart and soul of the dish. It is the base for the soup and gives it its distinctive flavor. Traditional techniques involve roasting beef bones and vegetables, such as onions and ginger, to create a rich and flavorful broth. The roasted bones and vegetables are then simmered for several hours with spices, such as cinnamon, star anise, and cloves, to create a complex and aromatic broth.

To prepare the broth using traditional techniques, beef bones are first roasted in the oven until browned. Onion halves are also roasted until blackened and soft. The roasted bones and onions are then transferred to a large stockpot and simmered with water, ginger, and spices for several hours. The broth is then strained to remove any impurities and served with noodles and toppings.

Modern Adaptations

Modern adaptations of pho broth preparation often involve shortcuts to save time and effort. For example, some recipes call for using a slow cooker or pressure cooker to cook the broth. Other recipes call for using pre-made beef broth or bouillon cubes instead of making the broth from scratch.

While these adaptations may save time, they often sacrifice the depth of flavor and complexity that traditional techniques provide. However, modern adaptations can still produce a delicious and satisfying broth. It all depends on personal preference and the amount of time and effort one is willing to put into preparing the broth.

Overall, the key to a good pho broth is to use high-quality ingredients and to allow enough time for the flavors to develop. Whether using traditional techniques or modern adaptations, a well-made pho broth is the foundation of a delicious and comforting bowl of pho.

Assembling the Bowl

After preparing the broth and noodles, it’s time to assemble the pho bowl. This step involves layering the components and adding garnishes to enhance the flavors and textures of the dish.

Layering Components

The first step in assembling a pho bowl is to add the cooked noodles. Use chopsticks or tongs to transfer the noodles from the pot to the bowl. Next, add the cooked meat, such as beef or chicken, on top of the noodles. If you prefer a vegetarian option, you can add tofu instead of meat.

After adding the meat, pour the hot broth over the noodles and meat. The broth will warm up the meat and noodles and infuse them with flavor. If you like your pho with a stronger flavor, you can add more broth.

Garnishing Tips

Garnishes are an essential part of pho and can add a lot of flavor and texture to the dish. Some popular garnishes include:

  • Bean sprouts: These add a fresh, crunchy texture to the dish.
  • Basil: Fresh basil leaves add a fragrant, slightly sweet flavor to the dish.
  • Lime: A squeeze of lime juice adds a tangy, citrusy flavor to the broth.
  • Jalapeños: Sliced jalapeños add a spicy kick to the dish.
  • Hoisin sauce: This sweet and savory sauce adds depth of flavor to the broth.

You can add as many or as few garnishes as you like, depending on your personal preference. Some people like to add all of the garnishes, while others prefer just a few. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite.

In conclusion, assembling a pho bowl is a straightforward process that involves layering the components and adding garnishes. By following these simple steps, you can create a delicious and satisfying bowl of pho that is sure to impress.

Serving and Presentation


Pho is traditionally served with a variety of accompaniments that add flavor and texture to the dish. Some popular accompaniments include bean sprouts, lime wedges, Thai basil, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, and hoisin sauce. These accompaniments are typically served on a separate plate or bowl, allowing diners to add them to their pho as desired.

Plating Styles

There are different ways to plate pho, depending on personal preference and cultural tradition. One common style is to serve the broth and noodles in a large bowl, with the accompaniments on a separate plate or bowl. Another style is to place the noodles and meat in the bowl first, and then pour the hot broth over them. This method allows the noodles and meat to cook slightly in the hot broth, resulting in a different flavor and texture.

In addition to the plating style, the presentation of the pho can also be enhanced with garnishes such as sliced green onions, chopped peanuts, and crispy fried shallots. These garnishes add visual appeal and an extra layer of flavor to the dish.

Overall, the presentation and accompaniments of pho can be customized to suit individual tastes and preferences. Whether served with a variety of accompaniments or plated in a unique way, pho is a delicious and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed in many different forms.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options

Broth Alternatives

Pho is traditionally made with beef broth, but for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are several alternatives to consider. One option is to use a vegetable broth as a base, which can be made by simmering vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms in water. Another option is to use a mushroom broth, which can be made by simmering dried or fresh mushrooms in water.

For those who prefer a more savory flavor, miso paste can be added to the broth for an umami taste. Miso is made from fermented soybeans and can be found in most grocery stores. Another option is to use a seaweed broth, which can be made by simmering seaweed in water. Seaweed is a good source of iodine, which is important for thyroid health.

Protein Substitutes

Traditionally, pho is served with beef or chicken, but for vegetarians and vegans, there are several protein substitutes to consider. Tofu is a popular option and can be added to the broth for a protein boost. Tempeh, which is made from fermented soybeans, is another option and has a nutty flavor that pairs well with the broth.

For those who prefer a meat-like texture, seitan can be used as a protein substitute. Seitan is made from wheat gluten and has a chewy texture that is similar to meat. Another option is to use mushrooms as a protein substitute. Shiitake mushrooms, in particular, have a meaty flavor and can be sliced and added to the broth.

Overall, there are many vegetarian and vegan options available for those who want to enjoy pho without the traditional meat-based ingredients. By using alternative broths and protein substitutes, it is possible to create a flavorful and satisfying bowl of pho that is suitable for any dietary preference.

Nutritional Information

Pho is a Vietnamese soup that is typically made with beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. It is a popular dish that is enjoyed by many people around the world. In this section, we will take a closer look at the nutritional information of pho.

Pho is generally considered to be a healthy dish as it is low in fat and calories. However, the nutritional content may vary depending on the type of meat used and the ingredients added to the soup. For example, beef pho tends to be higher in calories and fat compared to chicken pho.

One serving of beef pho (approximately 2 cups) contains approximately 350-450 calories, 4-6 grams of fat, and 50-60 grams of carbohydrates. It is also a good source of protein, with one serving providing around 20-30 grams of protein.

Pho is also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, iron, and calcium. The herbs and vegetables used in pho, such as basil, cilantro, and bean sprouts, provide additional nutrients and antioxidants.

It is important to note that some commercially prepared pho may be high in sodium. However, homemade pho allows you to control the amount of sodium added to the soup. Overall, pho can be a healthy and nutritious meal option when made with fresh ingredients and consumed in moderation.

Storing and Reheating Instructions

Pho is a popular Vietnamese dish that can be easily stored and reheated for later consumption. Proper storage and reheating techniques are crucial to maintain the quality and flavor of the dish. Here are some instructions to help you store and reheat your pho:

Storing Instructions

  1. Allow the pho components to cool down to room temperature before storing them in the refrigerator. This will prevent the formation of condensation and the growth of bacteria.
  2. Store the broth and the solid components separately in airtight containers. This will prevent the solid components from absorbing too much liquid and becoming soggy.
  3. Label the containers with the date of storage to keep track of their freshness. Pho can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating Instructions

  1. Remove the pho components from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes to take the chill off.
  2. Reheat the broth in a pot on the stove or in the microwave until it is boiling hot. This will help to kill any bacteria that may have grown during storage.
  3. Add the solid components to the broth and let them heat up for a few minutes. Do not overcook the solid components as they can become mushy.
  4. Serve the pho hot with any additional garnishes or seasonings.

By following these simple instructions, you can store and reheat your pho without compromising its quality and taste. Enjoy your delicious bowl of pho anytime, anywhere!

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