Guests choose their add-ins for casual comfort food.

Last week, my daughter wanted to bring comfort food to a couple of friends who were camping out in a lockdown hotel room without access to a kitchen.  As much fun as it is to subsist on snack food for a while – eventually we all crave wholesome comfort food.  My daughter had a brilliant idea.  She brought them Pho, the hearty traditional Vietnamese broth into which each diner can add noodles, beef, chicken, basil, red pepper flakes and almost anything left over in the fridge. Warm, filling and personalized – a perfect ‘feel good’ meal.

The basic element of Pho is a broth, usually flavored with onions and ginger.  Beef or oxtail broth is  traditional, but you can make great chicken and vegetarian Phos.  Pho noodles are dried rice noodles, traditionally shaped like fettucine.  Pho dipping sauce is a combination of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, ginger, garlic and Thai chili.  It is optional and diners can spice up their basic Pho with dipping sauce just like adding salt and pepper.

You serve Pho with bowls of accompaniments like sliced onion, scallions, makrut lime leaves, cilantro leaves and stems, thin slices of serrano chilies, limes and a bowl of Pho dipping sauce.  Each diner begins with a bowl of Pho – broth, chicken or fish (unless you choose the vegetarian version) and noodles.  Then each person adds their favorite enhancements.

Here are some recipes for Pho.

                                                                        Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef-and-Noodle Soup)

I love a good shortcut and this recipe includes premade beef or chicken broth, which saves hours of preparation.

                                                                How To Make Pho: The Best Method for Most Home Cooks

This recipe begins with beefs bones and is the most authentic (and time consuming) of these recipes.

                                                                            Recipe: Vegetarian Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

See our earlier article on Bowl Food


Poke and Poke Bowls

Header image credit: The Washington Post