In Hanoi, it is still dark. In the taverns, the cookers mince the onions, the shallots, the ginger, and the fresh herbs picked up the day before. They are boning poultry, stringing up a side of beef ribs with a few marrow bones … This peaceful moment precedes the chaos that will soon sweep the streets of the capital of Vietnam. The regulars will come out, sit on rickety stools and order a Vietnamese phô burning. This soup is not only for breakfast, but it can also be eaten at any time. Some purists claim, however, that it is beneficial in the morning: it awakens the body, warms it and nourishes it substantially. Others maintain that in the evening, the broth is even more concentrated in perfumes.
Because the phô is above all a story of broth. Nothing very clear about its origins. It is said that the recipe appeared at the beginning of the 20th century, in the northern province of Nam Dinh, about a hundred kilometers from Hanoi. In this manufacturing bastion, the population was very mixed, Vietnamese textile workers and workers rubbed shoulders with French soldiers and settlers. It is this mixing that would have given birth to the national dish. The broth has flavors typical of the cuisine of the north of the country, more salty than that of the south, and marked by the presence of nuoc-mâm, a condiment made from fermented fatty fish.
How to taste pho in the rules of the art
The Vietnamese eat pho outside their home, in a hurry, sometimes even squatting at the side of the roads. Didier Corlou, the chef in Hanoi for over twenty years, gives three tips for savoring it locally.
The first steps
Add lemon, chili, and pepper when the hot bowl arrives on the table. Then stir with chopsticks.
The right tools
Avoid metal cutlery, which leaves a cold taste in the mouth. Taste the broth, rice pasta and meat with a porcelain spoon and chopsticks.
The ideal speed
Try to swallow everything like the Vietnamese, in less than five minutes, under penalty of eating too swollen noodles.