What is Beef Pho? A Guide to Vietnam’s Famous Noodle Soup

Beef pho is a wildly popular Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and a deeply flavorful, aromatic broth. This iconic dish is cherished for its complex layers of texture and flavor. Here’s a complete guide to understanding all the components that make pho such a satisfying bowl of comfort.

A Brief History

  • Pho originated in northern Vietnam in the early 20th century.

  • It evolved from noodle soups made with water buffalo.

  • When beef became available under French colonial rule, vendors started using beef bones and parts to make pho.

  • It was likely influenced by French beef consomme and Chinese spices.

  • Originally a breakfast dish, pho became popular at all times of day.

The Pho Broth

  • The broth is the soul of pho. Traditional versions are simmered for hours using beef bones.

  • Spices like cinnamon, star anise, coriander, and black peppercorns provide warming flavor.

  • Charred onions, ginger, and shallots add sweet smokiness.

  • Beef parts like oxtail, brisket, or chuck provide body.

  • Fish sauce, sugar, and salt balance out the flavors.

Pho Noodles

  • Thin, flat rice noodles are the standard. They are called bánh phở.

  • The noodles are briefly boiled or soaked just before serving.

  • Cooked al dente, they provide delicate texture against the hearty broth.

Featured Proteins

  • Beef pho (phở bò) features thinly sliced cooked beef. Flank, sirloin, brisket, tendon are options.

  • The raw meat cooks rapidly in the hot broth. Pre-cooked meat can also be used.

  • Other pho variations feature chicken, seafood or even veggie proteins.

Classic Garnishes

  • Bean sprouts, lime wedges, fresh herbs and chilies for brightness.

  • Thinly sliced onions add crunchy bite.

  • Hoisin and Sriracha sauces can be added.

Enjoying Pho

  • Pho is served piping hot in large bowls with chopsticks and Asian soup spoons.

  • Noodles, meat and broth are combined with chopsticks and spoons help sip the broth.

  • It’s customizable – add sauces, squirts of lime, herbs and sprouts to taste.

  • While popular for breakfast in Vietnam, its enjoyed any time of day.

With its complex aroma, variety of textures, customizable flavors and sheer heartiness, a steaming bowl of beef pho nourishes body and soul. This iconic Vietnamese staple has earned its global cult following.

How to Make Quick Beef Pho with Jet Tila | Ready Jet Cook With Jet Tila | Food Network


What exactly is a pho?

What Is Pho and What Is It Made Of? Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of bone broth, rice noodles, and thinly sliced meat (usually beef). It may also be served with bean sprouts, fresh herbs, limes, chiles, and other garnishes.

What is pho meat made of?

Top choices for beef pho are sirloin steak, round eye, or London broil. All of these are quick-cooking pieces of beef that won’t leave you chewing for hours. My favorite of the bunch is round eye, which is what I’ve used today — this cut is leaner than sirloin and I like its beefy flavor, especially in this pho.

What the heck is pho?

Pho is a type of Vietnamese soup that usually consists of bone broth, rice noodles, spices, and thinly sliced meat (usually beef). Though “pho” technically refers to the noodles and not the soup itself, most people consider the dish a singular unit.

What’s the difference between pho and ramen?

Pho (pronounced fuh) is a light Vietnamese noodle dish with herbal broth and rice noodles, and ramen is a Japanese noodle dish with hearty broth and wheat noodles. If you compare the two soups side by side, the noodles in pho are soft and translucent, and the noodles in ramen are firm and chewy.

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