|Place of origin||Vietnam|
|Region or state||Hanoi, Nam Dinh|
|Main ingredient(s)||Noodles (rice flour), beef or chicken|
|Variations||Beef pho, chicken pho, phở tái (pho topped with sliced raw beef)|
|varies by recipe|
Phở (//; [fəː˧˩˧] ( listen)) is a Vietnamese dish consisting of broth, linguine-shaped noodles made from rice, a few herbs, and meat. It is a popular street dish and the specialty of several restaurant chains. Pho is primarily served with either beef or chicken. The Hanoi and Saigon styles of pho differ by noodle width, sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs. The origin of pho and its name is a subject of scholarly debate.
Pho originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam, apparently southeast of Hanoi in Nam Định province, then a substantial textile market. The traditional home of pho is reputed to be the villages of Vân Cù and Dao Cù (or Giao Cù) in Đông Xuân commune, Nam Trực district, Nam Định province. According to villagers, pho was eaten in Vân Cù long before the French colonial period when it was popularized.
At first, pho was sold by roaming street vendors shouldering special-purpose carrying poles (gánh phở). Hanoi's first two pho stands were a Vietnamese-owned Cát Tường on Cầu Gỗ Street and a Chinese-owned stand in front of Bờ Hồ tram stop. They were joined in 1918 by two more on Quạt Row and Đồng Row. Around 1925, a Vân Cù villager named Vạn opened the first "Nam Định style" pho stand in Hanoi.
Etymology and origins 
Georges Dumoutier's extensive 1907 account of Vietnamese cuisine omitted any mention of pho; therefore, pho presumably was not widely known by this point. However, by 1913, street vendors were already selling it in Hanoi, according to Nguyễn Công Hoan. According to a survey of the literature by Vương Trung Hiếu, a 1931 dictionary is the first to define phở as a soup: "from the word phấn. A dish consisting of small slices of rice cake boiled with beef."
Possibly the earliest English-language reference to pho was in the book Recipes of All Nations, edited by Countess Morphy in 1935. In the book, pho is described as "an Annamese soup held in high esteem ... made with beef, a veal bone, onions, a bayleaf, salt, and pepper, and a small teaspoon of nuoc-mam."
There are two prevailing theories on the origin of the word phở and, by extension, the dish itself. As author Nguyễn Dư notes, both questions are significant to Vietnamese identity.
From French 
French settlers commonly ate beef, whereas Vietnamese traditionally ate pork and used cattle as beasts of burden. Gustave Hue (1937) equates cháo phở to the French beef stew pot-au-feu (literally, "pot on the fire"). Western sources, including American English dictionaries, generally maintain that phở is therefore derived from pot-au-feu in both name and substance. Various scholars dispute this etymology on the basis of the stark differences between the two dishes.
A related idea is that pho, originally sold piping hot at streetside stands, would have been described as feu, meaning fire. However, an article in An Ninh Thế Giới, a Vietnamese government publication, argues that "fire" would more likely have been rendered in Cantonese: the Cantonese pronunciation of 火 (Cantonese Yale: fo2; Vietnamese: hỏa), written in chữ quốc ngữ, would be *phỏ.
From Cantonese 
Meanwhile, Hue and Eugèn Gouin (1957) both define phở by itself as an abbreviation of lục phở. Elucidating on the 1931 dictionary, Gouin and Lê Ngọc Trụ (1970) both give lục phở as a corruption of ngưu nhục phấn (Chinese: 牛肉粉; Cantonese Yale: ngau4 yuk6 fan2; literally: "cow meat noodles"). Ngưu nhục phấn was commonly sold by Chinese immigrants in Hanoi and became nhục phấn (Chinese: 肉粉; Cantonese Yale: yuk6 fan2) in the early 20th century. Nguyễn Dư points out that the dish is called "nhục phơ" in "Đánh bạc" ("Gambling"), a poem written by Tản Đà around 1915–1917, and that nhục phơ became phở shortly thereafter. According to An Ninh Thế Giới, phơ is likely just a typographical error, but phở would have come from the Cantonese reading of 粉 regardless.
Some scholars hold that pho (the dish) evolved from xáo trâu, a Vietnamese dish common in Hanoi at the turn of the century. Originally eaten by commoners near the Red River, it consisted of stir fried strips of water buffalo meat served in broth atop rice vermicelli. Around 1908–1909, the shipping industry brought an influx of laborers. Vietnamese and Chinese cooks set up gánh to serve them xáo trâu but later switched to beef, a relatively inexpensive meat. Chinese cooks advertised this xáo bò as ngau4 yuk6 fan2, i.e. "beef and noodles".
To Nguyễn Dư, two folk art paintings in Henri Oger's Technique du peuple annamite (1909) prove that the dish itself came from ngưu nhục phấn. In the first illustration, a street vendor is shown squatting between two wooden cabinets joined by a carrying pole. One cabinet houses a cauldron over a fire, while the other stores various wares, such as a chef's knife and a vial (presumably of fish sauce). Pho was typically served at such gánh in the early 20th century. The second illustration is a closeup of the cabinet housing the cauldron, which is labeled "行肉粉" (Vietnamese: hàng nhục phấn; literally: "meat rice-noodles shop").
However, Vương points out that the first illustration is captioned "Chinese peddler at nightfall" and depicts a man wearing a queue. Therefore, the illustrations merely prove that Chinese immigrants also sold nhục phấn at gánh. Furthermore, in the Nom script used at the time, phở was written as 頗. Had the word been a corruption of phấn, Vietnamese writers would have simply borrowed the character 粉.
Beef noodle soup (ngưu nhục phấn) was not originally a Han dish; the Han instead ate pork noodle soup (traditional Chinese: 豬肉粉; simplified Chinese: 猪肉粉; Cantonese Yale: chu1 yuk6 fan2; Vietnamese: trư nhục phấn). Uyghurs forced to migrate from Xinjiang to Changde during the Yongzheng Emperor's reign introduced a beef variety, in keeping with Islamic practices. Today, it is known as Changde beef noodle soup (Chinese: 常德牛肉粉; Cantonese Yale: seung4 dak1 ngau4 yuk6 fan2; Vietnamese: Thường Đức ngưu nhục phấn).
Chicken pho appeared in 1939, possibly because beef was not sold at the markets on Mondays and Fridays at the time.
With the Partition of Vietnam in 1954, over a million people fled North Vietnam for the South. Pho, previously unpopular in the south, suddenly took off. No longer confined to northern culinary traditions, variations in meat and broth appeared, and additional garnishes, such as lime, bean sprouts, culantro (ngò gai), cinnamon basil (húng quế), and Hoisin sauce (tương đen), became standard fare. Phở tái, with raw beef, also began to rival fully cooked phở chín in popularity. Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese government forced the closure of many independent pho businesses in favor of state-owned eateries (cửa hàng ăn uống mậu dịch quốc doanh).
During the so-called "subsidy period", state-owned pho eateries served a meatless variety of the dish known as "pilotless pho" (phở không người lái), in reference to the U.S. military's unmanned reconnaissance drones. The broth consisted of boiled water with MSG added for taste. Bread or cold rice was often served as a side dish, leading to the modern practice of dipping quẩy in pho.
In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees brought pho to many countries. It is especially popular in large cities with substantial Vietnamese populations and enclaves such as Paris, major cities in Canada, the United States, and Australia. The word "pho" was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2007. Pho is listed at number 28 on "World's 50 most delicious foods" compiled by CNN Go in 2011. Pho is listed as the number 1 Vietnamese food in Vancouver according to the Vancouver Sun newspaper.
In recent years, several chains have commercialized the soup, most notably Pho 24 in Vietnam and Pho Mi 99 in Canada.
Ingredients and preparation 
Pho is served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with slim cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket). Variations feature tendon, tripe, or meatballs in southern Vietnam. Chicken pho is made using the same spices as beef, but the broth is made using only chicken bones and meat, as well as some internal organs of the chicken, such as the heart, the undeveloped eggs and the gizzard.
The broth for beef pho is generally made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, charred ginger and spices. For a more intense flavor, the bones may still have beef on them. Chicken bones also work and produce a similar broth. Seasonings can include Saigon cinnamon or other kinds of cinnamon as alternatives (may use stick or powder), star anise, roasted ginger, roasted onion, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and clove. The broth takes several hours to make. For chicken pho, only the meat and bones of the chicken are used in place of beef and beef bone. The remaining spices remain the same, but the charred ginger can be omitted, since its function in beef pho is to get rid of the "cow's smell".
The spices, often wrapped in cheesecloth or soaking bag to prevent them from floating all over the pot, usually contain: clove, star anise, coriander seed, fennel, cinnamon, black cardamom, ginger and onion.
Careful cooks often roast ginger and onion over an open fire for about a minute before adding them to the stock, to bring out their full flavor. They also skim off all the impurities that float to the top while cooking; this is the key to a clear broth. Salt, or preferably nước mắm (fish sauce) is added toward the end.
Vietnamese dishes are meals typically served with lots of greens, herbs, vegetables, and various other accompaniments, such as dipping sauces, hot and spicy pastes, and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice; it may also be served with hoisin sauce. The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, Thai basil (not to be confused with sweet basil), fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon or lime wedges, bean sprouts and coriander or culantro. Fish sauce, hoisin sauce and chili sauce may be added to taste as accompaniments.
Several ingredients not generally served with pho may be ordered by request. Extra-fatty broth (nước béo) can be ordered and comes with scallions to sweeten it. A popular side dish ordered upon request is hành dấm, or vinegared white onions.
Regional variants 
The several regional variants of pho in Vietnam, particularly divided between northern (Hanoi, are called phở bắc or "northern pho"), and southern pho (Saigon, called phở Sài Gòn). Northern pho tends to use somewhat wider noodles and much more green onion, and garnishes offered generally include only vinegar, fish sauce and chili sauce. On the other hand, southern Vietnamese pho broth is slightly sweeter and has bean sprouts and a greater variety of fresh herbs. The variations in meat, broth, and additional garnishes such as lime, bean sprouts, ngò gai (Eryngium foetidum), húng quế (Thai/Asian basil), and tương đen (bean sauce/hoisin sauce), tương ớt (hot chili garlic sauce, e.g., Rooster Sauce) appear to be innovations made by or introduced to the south, also called Pho Sai Gon ("Saigon Style" Pho).
International variants include pho made using tofu and vegetable broth for vegetarians, and a larger variety of vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli.
Pho served both rare and well-done beef brisket
See also 
- Vietnamese cuisine
- Bánh mì
- Bún chả
- Bún bò Huế
- Vietnamese noodles
- List of Vietnamese culinary specialities
- List of Vietnamese dishes
- CNN Go.World's 50 most delicious foods. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2012-09-09.
- Scripter, Sami; Yang, Sheng (2009). Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America. University of Minnesota Press. p. 25. ISBN 1452914516. "Phở is made with small (1/16-inch-wide) linguine-shaped rice noodles labeled ‘bánh phở’."
- Thanh Nien staff (3 February 2012). "Vietnamese street food a gourmet’s delight". Thanh Nien News. Retrieved 15 October 2012. "A visit to Vietnam would never be complete, Lister said, without the taste of food on the street, including phở - beef noodle soup,..."
- Nguyen, Andrea Q. "History of Pho Noodle Soup". San Jose Mercury News, reprinted at Viet World Kitchen. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- Nguyễn Ngọc Tiến (2 August 2011). "Phở Hà Nội" [Hanoi Pho]. Hànộimới (in Vietnamese) (Communist Party Committee of Hanoi). Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- An Chi (2010-06-15). "Lai lịch của món phở và tên gọi của nó" [Origin of the phở dish and its name]. An Ninh Thế Giới (in Vietnamese) (Vietnam Ministry of Public Security). Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- Nguyễn Dư (February 2001). "Phở, phởn, phịa ..." [Pho, euphoria, innovation...]. Chim Việt Cành Nam (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 18 May 2013.
- Trịnh Quang Dũng (15 January 2010). "Phở muôn màu muôn vẻ" [Pho has ten thousand colors and ten thousand styles]. Báo Khoa Học Phổ Thông (in Vietnamese) (Ho Chi Minh City Union of Science and Technology Associations). Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- Trịnh Quang Dũng (8 January 2010). "Khởi nguồn của phở" [Origins of pho]. Báo Khoa Học Phổ Thông (in Vietnamese) (Ho Chi Minh City Union of Science and Technology Associations). Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Vương Trung Hiếu (July 17, 2012). "Nguồn Gốc Của Phở" [The Origins of Phở]. Văn Chương Việt (in Vietnamese). Retrieved May 16, 2013.
- Nguyễn Công Hoan (2004). Nhớ và ghi về Hà Nội. Youth Publishing House. p. 94.
- Vũ Đức Vượng (14 November 2005). "Phở: tấm danh thiếp của người Việt". VietNamNet (in Vietnamese) (Vietnam Ministry of Information and Communications). Translated into the English: "Pho: Common “name card” of Vietnamese". Sài Gòn Giải Phóng. Translated by Quang Hung (Communist Party Committee of Ho Chi Minh City). 14 November 2005. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- Morphy, Marcelle (countess) (1948), Recipes of all nations, New York: Wm. H. Wise & Co., p. 802
- Apple, Raymond Walter, Jr. (13 August 2003). "Asian Journey; Looking Up an Old Love On the Streets of Vietnam". The New York Times (New York Times Company).
- Gibb, Camilla (2011). The Beauty of Humanity Movement: A Novel. p. 4. "The history of Vietnam lies in this bowl, for it is in Hanoi, the Vietnamese heart, that phở was born, a combination of the rice noodles that predominated after a thousand years of Chinese occupation and the taste for ..."
- "pho". Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford University Press. (accessed July 13, 2012). "a type of Vietnamese soup, typically made from beef stock and spices to which noodles and thinly sliced beef or chicken are added. Origin: Vietnamese, perhaps from French feu (in pot-au-feu)"
"pho", The American Heritage Dictionary, "A soup of Vietnamese origin typically consisting of rice noodles, onions, herbs, seasonings, and thinly sliced beef or chicken in a clear broth."
- Bloom, Dan, "What's that Pho? - French loan words in Vietnam hark back to the colonial days" Taipei Times, May 29, 2010.
- Trần Văn Kiệm, Giúp đọc Nôm và Hán Việt [Help with Nom and Sino-Vietnamese], 2004, "Entry phở". 頗 is an abbreviated form. The full version of the character, ⿰米頗, is not yet part of Unicode.
- "常德牛肉粉" [Changde beef noodle soup]. Baidu Baike (in Chinese). Baidu. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "A Bowl of Pho", San Francisco Chronicle, November 1997
- Hoàng Linh (March 5, 2009). "Tản mạn về Phở" [Ramblings about Phở]. BBC Vietnamese (in Vietnamese) (BBC). Retrieved May 16, 2013.
- Thanh Thảo (19 August 2012). "Từ bát phở 'không người lái'" [From a bowl of pho, 'no pilot']. Thanh Nien (in Vietnamese) (Vietnam United Youth League). Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- Trịnh Quang Dũng (22 January 2010). "Phở theo thời cuộc" [Pho in the present day]. Báo Khoa Học Phổ Thông (in Vietnamese) (Ho Chi Minh City Union of Science and Technology Associations). Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "For Fantastic Pho, The Proof is in the Soup, Georgia Straight. April 2008.
- Schuman, Kate, "Oxford's short dictionary adds hundreds of new words, including 'carbon footprint'", U-T San Diego, September 19, 2007.
- "Foreign “big sharks” eyeing Vietnamese famous brands (part 1)", Vietnam Net Bridge, April 23, 2012
- Johnathon Gold Pho Town; Noodle stories from South El Monte Dec. 12-18 2008 LA Weekly
- Diana My Tran (2003). The Vietnamese Cookbook. Capital Lifestyles (illustrated ed.). Capital Books. pp. 53–54. ISBN 1-931868-38-7. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- Dana Craig, Dining Out Review: Pho Saigon, timesdispatch, July 26, 2012
- Nguyễn Công Luận (2012). Nationalist in the Viet Nam Wars: Memoirs of a Victim Turned Soldier. p. 207. "Many of them went to downtown Kontum at night to have a cup of coffee or in the morning to eat a large bowl of phở (Vietnamese noodle soup). It was those early American servicemen who built the best understanding between the Americans ..."
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