Sat, Feb 09, 2013 - Page 12 News List

A culinary classic

In Vietnam, eating pho is an integral part of people’s daily lives and the humble dish, a soup of beef broth, herbs and noodles, can be found on every street corner in the capital Hanoi. But controversy remains over its origins

By Cat Barton  /  AFP, HANOI

But whatever the real story, “pho is one of the world’s best soups,” Corlou said. “For me Vietnamese cuisine is the best in the world.”

Pho au fois gras?

Corlou said that while the main ingredients of pho stay constant, the dish must evolve.

At his three Hanoi restaurants, for example, he offers a salmon pho as well as a pho au fois gras priced at US$10 a bowl — “you cannot put pho in a museum,” he said.

In the last decade, new local versions of that classic — including fresh rolls made from unsliced pho rice noodle sheets — have also emerged.

And as Vietnam has grown richer, more expensive pho — including a reported US$40 kobe beef version — has appeared.

But beyond adding more meat, there is not much you can do to improve the dish, said Hanoi-based chef and cuisine expert Tracey Lister, who thinks the Vietnamese deserve the credit for their acclaimed noodle soup.

“It is the great dish, the celebrated dish, and I think we’ve got to let Vietnam have that one,” Lister, the director of the Hanoi Cooking Center, said.

“Pho truly represents Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a simple dish yet sophisticated. It is a very elegant dish. It’s just a classic.”

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