What Is Pho and How to Make It

Everything you need to know about the trendy Vietnamese soup.

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Last week, the seers over at Google released a comprehensive report revealing the top trends in food and recipe search from coast to coast—offering, basically, a bird’s eye view of Americans’ culinary curiosities, guilty pleasures, and weeknight cravings. There were exciting up-and-comers on the list (turmeric, we’re looking at you) and a few falling stars we won’t miss (bacon cupcakes, anyone?) But the winner that put the biggest smile on our face was a classic Vietnamese dish that’s a tricky to pronounce but super easy to slurp down: Pho.

Our affection for pho isn’t entirely new: According to Google, searches for the fragrant noodle soup have increased steadily for the past decade, with a marked uptick—11 percent year-over-year—in the past three years alone. Certainly, if you’ve ever been to a Vietnamese restaurant, you’ve reveled in its heady aroma. While its origins are murky, most historians agree that pho first appeared around the turn of the 20th century in northern Vietnam, and some speculate that the name is a play on the French beef stew, pot au feu, which was introduced to the country during the period of colonization.

In its most basic form, a bowl of pho consists of a foundation of rice noodles topped with thinly sliced raw beef, which gets cooked when a portion of steaming, spiced beef broth is poured over top. Finished with a flurry of fresh herbs, like cilantro and basil, as well as crunchy bean sprouts, hot chiles, and tart lime, pho makes an, ahem, restorative meal any time of day. Indeed, in its home country, pho is still best loved as a breakfast dish, available from every corner food stall. But because, whether topped with beef or chicken, it is the robust, deeply savory broth that is its backbone, traditional versions of pho can take a day or more to make—there’s just no faking that slow simmered stock. That’s not exactly conducive to weeknight cooking, which is why most folks—even Vietnamese-Americans—usually buy their pho from a pro.

That may be changing, though. One of the more interesting details in Google’s report explains that traffic around pho has recently included more recipe searches—suggesting that home cooks are eager to try and recreate the magic of the dish at home. We can certainly get behind that. And happily, as long as you’re not a purist, there are plenty of pho shortcuts that deliver a lot of the deliciousness in a fraction of the time. Here, a few of our favorites:

  • Use store bought broth. Though there’s no comparing the boxed stuff to the real thing, sometimes you just want a steaming bowl of pho right now. It pays to seek out a brand that is clean-tasting, rich, and beefy.
  • Add some exotic spices. Star anise, cloves, and cinnamon are the aromatic trinity in traditional pho stock—so try adding a few whole spices to the store-bought stuff, along with a bit of fresh ginger and a glug of funky fish sauce. Though it won’t replicate the complexity of a long-simmered broth, it will infuse the mixture with a delightful aroma and deepen all of the flavors.
  • Use leftovers. Handling raw beef at the dinner table not your thing? Swap out the traditional topping for something a little more approachable (and convenient) like rotisserie chicken, leftover steak, or even Thanksgiving turkey. Vegetarian? Skip the meat and toss in some tofu or mushrooms instead.
  • Don’t skimp on the add-ons. One of the best parts of traditional pho—the fresh garnishes—requires no cooking at all, so take the opportunity to really make them shine. Seek out the freshest, greenest basil and cilantro, a variety of chiles, the crunchiest sprouts, and the juiciest limes, and always offer plenty of them. Sriracha is also de rigeur—and hoisin sauce doesn’t hurt either.

Repost via Real Simple 

Each State’s Iconic Beer

Iconic American Beers - Coors - Sam Adams - Anchor Steam

What makes a beer an icon? Longevity? Sure, that’s a factor. Impact? Absolutely. Being digitized and placed on the desktop of a Macbook? Yes, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

We set out to identify the most iconic beer brewed in each of the 50 states — yes, the beer must be at least partially brewed within the state it represents, which meant passing over some beloved brands that were gobbled up and saw their production moved elsewhere. Because of the varied nature of the brewing scene state-to-state, some of these are recognizable, generations-old standbys, while other are more of the “instant classic” variety, but regardless, each of these beers is more than just a beer.

Luckily, they’re also still beers. You should drink them all, but not before appreciating their significance.

Check out the list from Thrillist.

11 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN

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Even if you’ve never seen his shows or read his books, you know a few things about Anthony Bourdain. His reputation as a former hard-partying chef who left that scene to eat exotic foods on the Travel Channel and CNN precedes the foul-mouthed New Yorker. But even if you know he doesn’t mince words, do you actually know the man? We hit the archives to bring you interesting facts on Bourdain’s family, his early pay scale, and his deep-seated hatred of Billy Joel. It’ll make you gain a whole new appreciation of America’s sarcastic uncle.

1. His first kitchen job was at a wedding… and he saw the chef having sex with the bride

2. His big break came from The New Yorker

3. He got $50,000 for Kitchen Confidential

4. But before that, he was a mystery novelist

5. Writing runs in the family: His mom is a New York Times vet

6. His career goals were set when he tried oysters… at the age of 10

7. He used to fire people for playing Billy Joel

8. His IMDb is hilarious, with shows like Yo Gabba Gabba! and The Simpsons

9. His wife is an MMA star, can kick your ass

10. He’s really into acai bowls

11. He doesn’t care for craft beer

Read the full article here. (via Thrillist)

Did You Know: 10 Main Food Companies

Only 10 companies control almost every large food and beverage brand in the world.

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These companies — Nestlé, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Associated British Foods, and Mondelez — each employ thousands of employees and make billions of dollars in revenue every year.

In an effort to push these companies to make positive changes — and for customers to realize who controls the brands they’re buying — Oxfam created a mind-boggling infographic that shows how interconnected consumer brands really are.

Read more here.

via Insider