03/05/2012

Evolution of Pho: Now, Mixed Pho

Who can resist a good bowl of Pho? The hearty and flavorful rice-noodle dish known as Vietnam’s national soup is not just a delicacy and specialty in Vietnam, but is also a delight to tourists and an unending craze to locals. Probably in every corner, and every alley in Vietnam, you will see locals and foreigners alike chowing-down on a bowl of Pho.

No two bowls of Pho served from two separate kitchens will ever taste the same. But all Phos in the world are made up of the very same three elements: the broth, the rice noodles and the meat. Though Pho may be served with different base meat, could be chicken, pork or sometimes a combination, in its most traditional version, Pho is prepared as a rice noodle soup served with beef and herbs.
 
Over time, the dish evolved greatly as talented Vietnamese cooks learned to combine other ingredients or prepared phở noodles in non-soup dishes. People started to love the Phở cuốn (rice noodle rolls), phở chiên (deep-fried rice noodle crisps) and phở xào (stir-fried rice noodles) and the dishes became commonly served in restaurant and side-street stalls up to today.
 
The newest version of Pho is as delightful to the tastebuds, and is said to be best enjoyed in the summer. Phở trộn (mixed pho) is prepared by mixing scalded rice noodles, meat, herbs, bean sprouts, roasted peanuts and some sweet-and-sour sauce in a bowl. It is served together with a bowl of broth which is taken from boiled bones. The broth is known to be tempting in itself because of the smell of ginger and green onion. The threads of rice noodle in phở trộn are white and naturally crisp. They are soft but still tough enough. The sauce is extraordinarily delicious.
 
And even Pho Tron itself evolved to different varieties of which phở gà trộn (rice noodles mixed with chicken) is among the most popular. Other varieties uses rice noodles mixed with rare beef (phở bò tái trộn) and rice noodles mixed with chicken and beef (phở trộn thập cẩm). With the base meat used varied, the Pho Tron possesses a unique and distinct character. When rice noodles are mixed with chicken, the dish tastes greasy but not fatty. It still retains the flavor of the herbs and spices used. When rice noodles are mixed with beef, the beef is sliced thinly and marinated with some spices to make it softer and sweeter. The beef can be rare, well done, or anywhere in the middle.
 
Many would say that the sauce is the most important part of the dish because it decides whether the dish tastes delicious or not. Apart from the basic ingredients required to prepare it, restaurants tend to revise and develop their secret recipes to make their sauce better than others. Some places use soy sauce in phở trộn instead of sweet-and-sour sauce. The soy sauce is critical to the success of the dish, therefore, it is prepared pursuant to a special recipe. When the soy sauce is added into the bowl of mixed rice noodles, it creates a fragrant and flavorful mixture.
 
Though Pho Tron is becoming popular in every alley of Vietnam, there is a place to get it if you want to treat yourself to one that is well-prepared and really delectable. Pho Dam Sen in 3 Hoa Binh Street, Ward 3, District 11 will not disappoint you. Another place to get it, and serves Pho Tron equally as good is at Pho tron Ly Van Phuc at 5 Ly Van Phuc Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1.