Yesterday (30/4) was the national public holiday in Vietnam, it was a very meaningful day to all the people of the country. It has been four years I was not at home on the day, however, there was still something for me to recall.
So I decided to make this traditional food which has been called the signature of Vietnamese cuisine and the name of which has been added into the modern English dictionary. It may not necessary to mention too much about the introduction of this dish as many may guess it correctly: yes, it is Pho Bo. "Pho" in Vietnamese means a kind of noodle and "Bo" means beef.
There are many variations made to this national dish when a person goes all the way from the North to the South of Vietnam. However, according to some famous writers who wrote about Pho bo in particular, the origin of Pho Bo was believed to be in Hanoi, the only place that a person can enjoy the real authentic flavour and taste of Pho bo. And the real Pho bo must be served with "pre-cooked beef", while other varieties may served with raw beef.
The most important component to this famous food is the broth. One should gather all the necessary ingredients to bring all the flavours into the broth. Once all the ingredients are in one’s hands, this does not guaranteer that one can make a good broth. The procedure, the time of cooking, the point of perfection for each step are all important factors, not mentioning other secrets that an experienced cook or a skillful housewife may apply into the broth.
The Pho Bo I made yesterday was a kind of convenience. Since I lacked the two most important ingredients: the first one is beef bone and the other one which I only know its scientific name is Sipuncula or Sipunculida. So I used a concentrated broth cube which I had bought earlier in Vietnam and brought them over to Singapore. Other main ingredients are cinnamon stick, star anise, ginger, shallot, coriander seeds or roots, and black cardamom.
This time, I executed this bowl of "rare" Pho bo according to the style of a very popular brand name for Pho in Hanoi, which is "Pho Thin", named according to an owner of a beef noodle stall who could prepare a bowl of Pho bo that satisfied so many people. Next time, being able to have all the ingredients in my hand, I will remember to include the recipe for this national dish of my country.