By Lili Tu
Pho refers to the long flat rice noodles, not the soup itself, although it is commonly associated with the dish as a unit. Pho is on the list of commonly mispronounced words and should be pronounced as ‘fuh’.
Fresh is the best
Fresh Pho noodle is always the best. In Vietnam, we mostly eat fresh Pho noodle only. The dried version apparently was created to bring for people overseas. And lucky that in Melbourne, we can have fresh Pho noodles.
There are 3 popular brands of fresh Pho noodle in Melbourne. Although they are the same cut, they are different in texture. Cong Thanh has the chewiest texture and the noodle slightly thicker. Mekong is the softest one and Tan Thanh Cong is in somewhere the middle, quite well balanced between both of the texture.
They are all packed and sealed in a 1 kg bag and have Use By Date for 1 week and do not need to be refrigerated before opening if the room temperature in under 25C. After opening or if the weather is hot, you can store them in the fridge but that will make the noodles a bit harder. You can fix that by getting the noodles out of the fridge and leave them in the room temperature around 1 hour before cooking. If you are in a hurry, you can put them in the microwave for 2 minutes that will help to soften the noodles as well.
Again, it’s personal preference when coming to fresh noodle. A well cook will match his broth with the noodles. Salty and rich broth would need thick noodles while light and subtle one would go with the soft and thin ones.
For your pantry
Dried Pho noodle is very convenient, you can store them in your pantry and they taste nearly as good as fresh. They have the great chewy texture but not as soft and smooth as the fresh. They come in different sizes to match with different styles of broth. The rich stock would go best with the medium and large size while small size suits the light chicken or vegetarian broth. Medium and large size noodles can also be used for stir-fry.
You boil them in a similar way you cook spaghetti so remember to check the noodles regularly to make sure they are not overcooked and after draining, keep them under cool tap water for a couple of minutes to stop them from sticking together.