Check out the different types of pho in Vietnam you must try.
If you plan to travel to Vietnam, you must try one of their popular foods which is usually served in street stalls, restaurants, and households. This must-try dish is none other than PHO.
WHAT IS PHO?
Pho is a type of Vietnamese soup made from beef stock and spices added with thinly sliced beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà), and rice noodles (bánh phở). Pho is also considered Vietnam’s national dish.
Pho is not just a noodle soup, and some varieties are not even soup. Hence, the word ‘pho‘ technically refers to the noodles and not the soup.
In addition, there is no such thing as pork phở in Vietnam. If you will visit Pho Bo shops in this country, expect to be served with pure beef. Some may also have chicken pho.
Pho offers several benefits because of its nutritious ingredients and high protein content. It helps improve joint health and reduce inflammation.
The phở noodle soup originated in northern Vietnam in the early 20th century. It was popularized worldwide after the Vietnam War by the refugees.
However, poor documentation of pho’s origin created disagreement in the whole cultural influences.
As a result, development of the dish in Vietnam and the origin of its name has been made. Hence, styles of northern (Hanoi – Pho Bac) and southern (Saigon – Pho Nam) pho differ from each other, from the noodles width, choices of spices, to the sweetness of the broth.
And there are hundreds of types of pho in Vietnam. If you want to know what these are and where to find them, scroll down and continue reading.
Types Of Pho
Due to development and globalization, different pho styles were invented. Here are some of the famous types of pho you should try when visiting Vietnam. Majority of these are available in most pho restaurants particularly in Ho Chi Minh city.
BEEF PHO OR (Phở bò)
This pho style is made of different cuts and parts of beef. Its stock is also made from beef bones, ox tail, neck, shack, or beef balls. The toppings include thinly sliced fatty brisket, beef tripe, eye-round steak, flank steak, both cooked and raw beef, and tendon.
The spices used for beef pho are cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, and coriander. This beef-based version of pho is best served when hot, along with flat rice noodles topped with sliced onions, chopped green onions, and cilantro.
These ingredients, however, may change depending on the beef pho styles you’ll prefer since beef Pho are divided into two styles, the Northern-style beef pho and the Southern beef pho.
The Northern Beef Pho is a well-done version of beef added into a bowl of a boiling broth. Locals usually used beef stock and bones to make broth and seasoned it with ginger, fish sauce, anise, onion, cloves, and sugar. It is served with thin slices of raw beef and flat rice noodles in a bowl of boiling broth.
Meanwhile, Southern Beef Pho is a complex version of this dish. It uses assorted cuts and portions of beef. For the broth, locals use beef bones, tails, shank, and neck. Then garnished with Gau (slides brisket), eye-round steak, tripe, flank, tendon, and raw thin-sliced beef.
Adding essentials such as mung bean sprouts, sliced hot peppers, lime wedges, Sriracha and spicy Hoisin sauce on the side of the beef pho dish is also recommended, so that eaters can add garnishes to their soup according to their preferences.
CHICKEN PHO OR (Phở gà)
As the name suggests, this popular pho dish in the northern provinces of Vietnam is made with chicken. Chicken pho was invented in the 1930s and became the natives’ favorite because of its broth that has lighter and sweet flavors.
The stock of the chicken pho is made from pork bones, chicken stock, purple onion, onions, anise, ginger, and cinnamon. The locals also use dark and white chicken meat, skin, shallot, green onion, rice noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro, and Thai basil to achieve the tangy experience of the bowl.
Visit any pho bo restaurants in Ho Chi Minh city and try this dish.
STIR-FRIED PHO OR (Phở xào)
Unlike other pho styles, this traditional Vietnamese dish doesn’t have broth as its ingredients are not cooked, but rather stir-fried.
The stir-fried pho is usually made with beef, sometimes chicken, sliced vegetables, and thin flat rice noodles.
After stir-frying all the ingredients, this dish is seasoned with oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce. It is often served with a plate of sliced raw vegetables or fresh herbs like mint and basil.
MIXED PHO OR (Phở trộn)
Similar to stir-fried pho, this classic Vietnamese pho that is typical of Hanoi is dry and has no broth. Mixed pho is made of warm noodle salad with beef or chicken.
The ingredients though are not stir-fried, but marinated.
The sliced meat are marinated with salt, pepper, garlic, lime juice, ginger, and five spice powders.
Other ingredients like fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, bean sprouts, roasted peanuts, dry shallots, fresh rice noodle, and the sweet & sour dressings are mixed with the stir-fried meat.
This noodle soup flavoured with marinated ingredients usually garnished with red chili peppers and chopped peanuts, then served alongside with lime wedges.
PHO ROLLS OR (Phở cuốn)
This pho variety is made from uncut phở noodles filled with stir-fried beef, garlic, pepper, ginger, onions, lettuce, and herbs like perilla, cilantro, and mint.
SOUR PHO OR (Phở chua)
This traditional Vietnamese phở variety has two versions. The original version has six-key ingredients, the pink rice noodles, pickles, peanuts, dark soy sauce, Northern sauce, and the sour pickle liquid.
The second version of the sour phois made of two components- the broth and the dry ingredients. The broth is made from sugar, vinegar, and garlic. While the dry ingredients consisted of sliced and fried potatoes, pig’s liver, noodles, and roasted duck meat.
These versions are popular in Northern Vietnam. These varieties are often garnished with fresh herbs, diced green onion, crushed peanuts, or fried shallots prior to serving.
When you visit Vietnam during autumn or summer, expect to be served with these mouth-watering phở noodles. Sour pho is usually served in a pho restaurant or a household for special guests and visitors.
VEGAN PHO OR (Pho chay)
This vegan version of pho noodle soup has broth stewed for hours. Vegan pho broth is made of mushrooms, radish, ginger, carrot, onions, and spices such as black cardamon, cinnamon, coriander seeds, and cloves. These spices creates natural sweetness.
Once the broth is done, it will mixed to the mushrooms, tofu, bean sprouts, and flat rice noodle bowl.
To enhance the flavor of this vegetarian noodle soup, you can add other vegetables like leek, Pak Choi, fresh herbs, and chili.
This vegan pho is usually served in vegetarian restaurants and local eateries in Ho Chi Minh city.
SEAFOOD PHO OR (Phở hải sản)
These phở noodles are made with seafood. The broth is also made from seafood and chicken bones. Aside from fresh rice noodles, pho hai san also includes ingredients such as clams, shrimp, squid, onions, coriander, and mushrooms.
To make the broth more flavorful, spices such as star anise, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon are being added.
Serve the noodle soup into a deep steaming bowl while hot. Then garnished with diced green onions, bean sprouts, lime wedges, or sliced chili peppers.
NORTHERN VIETNAMESE BEEF PHO OR (Phở bò tái chín)
The soup of this pho bo version is prepared with chin (well-done) and tái (half-done beef), and then cooked by the piping hot broth when served.
The soup may also include ingredients such as bones, fish sauce, ginger, onions, beef broth, star anise, cloves, sugar, cinnamon, and rice noodles.
Raw beef and a few slices of roast beef are also served in a bowl before adding the broth into each bowl.
To enhance the flavor of this beef noodle soup, garnish pho bo with bean sprouts, Thai chili peppers, Asian basil, and cilantro.
Pho offers potential health benefits from the various ingredients being used.
The bone broth helps promote joint health as it contains chondroitin, glucosamine, and collagen.
The herbs and vegetables also contain nutrients that help fight inflammation.
Pho varieties usually include beef, chicken, tofu, and some may have used pork. These foods, with enough servings, are excellent sources of protein. Hence, enough protein intake provides macronutrients needed in the human body.
Spices and herbs are also good sources of nutrients and polyphenols, the compounds that help reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
Finding these pho dishes isn’t that hard though, since the above mentioned types of pho are available in Ho Chi Minh City.
You can also visit pho restaurants and order any of these pho styles. The locals are also hospitable, which for sure, can help you find these diverse styles of pho dishes in Vietnam.
I hope that this article has helped you one way or another. Thank you for reading!