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Do you enjoy Vietnamese pho? If you’ve never tried this tasty noodle soup before, you’re in for a treat! Rice noodles, broth, and often beef or chicken are used to make pho. But one feature that truly makes pho stand out is the fresh herbs and other toppings used to add flavor and freshness.
In this post, I’ll go over some of the most common herbs and garnishes used in pho and give you some ideas for how to use them to take your pho to the next level. Let’s get started!
Thai basil is an essential ingredient in many Vietnamese dishes, including pho.
It has a sweet, anise-like flavor that adds depth and complexity to the broth.
When making pho with Thai basil, you can either add a handful of whole leaves to the broth or chop it up and sprinkle it on top as a garnish.
Another herb frequently used in pho is cilantro, which gives the food a lively, fresh flavor.
Adding cilantro to pho is simple; just chop it up and scatter it on top as a garnish.
For a milder flavor, you can also add a few whole sprigs of cilantro to the broth.
Mint is another herb often used in pho, and it pairs particularly well with beef or chicken broth.
You can also add a sprig of the whole mint to the broth for a more subtle flavor.
Bean sprouts add a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
To use bean sprouts in your pho, rinse them under cold water and pat them dry.
Then, add a small handful to the soup as a garnish.
Green onions add a mild, oniony flavor to the dish.
To use green onions in your pho, slice them into thin rounds and sprinkle them over the top of the soup.
You can also add a few whole green onions to the broth for a more subtle flavor.
Culantro is a type of herb that’s similar to cilantro, but it has a more pungent, slightly bitter flavor.
It’s often used in Vietnamese cooking and is a great way to add some extra depth and complexity to your pho.
To use culantro in your pho, chop it up and sprinkle it over the top of the soup as a garnish.
Thai Chiles (or Serrano Peppers)
Thai chiles (also known as Serrano peppers) are a great option if you like your pho with a little bit of heat.
They have a moderate heat level and add a spicy kick to the dish.
To use Thai chiles in your pho, slice them thinly and sprinkle them over the top of the soup.
Lime wedges are a classic garnish for pho and add a bright, citrusy flavor to the dish.
To use lime wedges in your pho, squeeze a small amount of lime juice over the top of the soup before serving.
You can also add a few wedges to the bowl for people to squeeze themselves.
Jalapenos are another option for adding some heat to your pho. They have a moderate to high heat level, depending on how ripe they are and how many seeds you include. To use jalapenos in your pho, slice them thinly and sprinkle them on top of your soup.
Can I use other herbs in pho besides the ones listed?
Yes! You can definitely use other herbs in pho besides the ones I’ve listed. Some other herbs that work well in pho include Vietnamese coriander, sawtooth herb, and perilla.
Can I use dried herbs instead of fresh herbs in pho?
While fresh herbs are generally preferred in pho, you can use dried herbs if that’s all you have.
However, remember that dried herbs are more potent than fresh ones, so you’ll need to use less.
For example, you might use 1 teaspoon of dried Thai basil instead of a handful of fresh Thai basil.
Can I use a different type of noodle in pho besides rice noodles?
While rice noodles are the most traditional choice for pho, you can certainly use other types of noodles if you don’t have any on hand!
For example, some people use egg noodles, udon noodles, or even ramen noodles in their pho.
Keep in mind that using a different type of noodle may change the overall flavor and texture of the dish, so it’s a good idea to experiment to find what works best for you!
Can I use tofu or vegetables instead of meat in pho?
Yes! You can definitely use tofu or vegetables instead of meat in pho. Tofu is a great protein source for vegetarians and works well in pho.
You can also use a variety of vegetables, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, or zucchini, to add flavor and nutrition to the dish.
Sauté the tofu or vegetables in a pan and add them to the broth before serving.
Can I make pho in a slow cooker or Instant Pot?
Yes! You can definitely make pho in a slow cooker or Instant Pot.
These appliances make it easy to cook the broth for a more extended time, allowing the flavors to develop fully.
Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker or Instant Pot and let it cook on low heat for several hours.
You can also use the pressure cooking function on the Instant Pot to speed up the process.
So there you have it – some of the most common herbs and garnishes used in Vietnamese pho and answers to some frequently asked questions.
These ingredients are easy to find at your local Asian grocery store and can take your pho to the next level!
And if you’re feeling adventurous, try pairing your pho with other Vietnamese dishes that feature herbs, like summer rolls or banh mi sandwiches.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that you feel inspired to try some new herbs and garnishes in your pho.
What’s your favorite herb or garnish to use in pho? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you.
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