Elaine Corn: Time to bone up on THE national dish of Vietnam – how to eat it, and how to pronounce it.
COLLAGE: Foe. Feh. Fuh. Foh?
EC: Customers at a Stockton Boulevard noodle shop do the best they can to say a word spelled p-h-o. But, let Aaron Tran help.
Aaron Tran: P-h-o. FUH.
EC: Tran owns this noodle restaurant. If you listen carefully, you can hear the word “pho” in the name.
Tran: The restaurant name -- Pho Hien Vuong.
EC: It’s called [phonetically] “FUH HEEN VOONG” Authentic Vietnamese Noodle Restaurant. It specializes in big bowls of noodles in hot homemade beef broth. You could try speaking Vietnamese, but Tran gives a clue from the French who spent decades in Vietnam.
Tran: They actually mix it up with pot au feu…Pot on fire.
EC: That’s a French beef stew. And from that you get …
Tran: Pot au feu… Pho… there ya’ go!
EC: Pho may be Vietnamese comfort food, but there’s an art to turning 40 pounds of beef bones into 60 quarts of perfect broth.
Tran: The broth has to be clear.
EC: That means no boiling, or it gets cloudy.
Tran: The broth has to be flavorful.
EC: Salt, a hint of five-spice and chunks of rock sugar.
Tran: And the broth has to be fresh.
EC: It simmers long into the night.
Tran: At least 20 hours.
EC: It’s an endless cycle. Today’s starter batch is tomorrow’s pho. Along with beef and noodles, a hot bowl of pho might come with garnishes you add yourself – bean sprouts, a squeeze of lime, jalapeno, sprigs of Thai basil. Once it’s in front of you, Tran says taste the broth first. Make sure it’s elegant. Then eat the noodles. The broth is to be savored.
Tran: The broth is very valuable, because the hot soup makes you feel refreshed.
EC: And that’s true in winter or summer, pho what it’s worth.