Cookbook review: The Pho Cookbook by Andrea Nguyen
Posted On January 1, 2021
I’ve been a huge pho fan since I was a teenager and my dad took me to a little place in Oklahoma City. He told me “it’s this great chicken noodle soup. You’ll love it.” And I did… so much that pho was my go-to hospital takeout when I had both of my babies, I order it anytime I don’t want to cook (and you know I love to cook), and anytime anyone in the house is ill because it just seems like such a healing food. It is probably my favorite meal.
I’ve avoided making my own because it’s one of the few things I can get at a restaurant that I think is good enough as is and I can’t make improvements. But — the desire to create this dish at home has been nagging at me for awhile.
So, when my husband got me this book for Christmas, I knew I had to try. I opened the book and was immediately met with the chapter “What is Pho?” I appreciated this because it regaled the history of the soup along with its cultural importance to Vietnam.
Nguyen breaks down exactly how to start your pho with a chapter called the Pho Manual. She gives a list of everything you’ll need, from noodles to spices. She details how to set up the bowl and the plate of accompaniments. Cuts of meat, types of noodles, and the variations of herbs and more are discussed here. But the real magic of this book is the recipes.
Nguyen gives—in explicit detail— her version of every type of pho you’ve had in your hometown’s little pho spot (you know the one — your favorite one that is in a strip mall behind a Home Depot). She has quick versions and slower, more authentic versions, and they do not disappoint.
I tried the Saigon-Style Beef Pho on New Year’s Eve (coincidentally it is our new family tradition for this holiday). The recipe, which made my house smell glorious as the broth simmered all day, worked perfectly, even though I had to substitute the type of meat. I also made her beef meatballs, and they were everyone’s favorite part of the meal. The Vietnamese coffee also hit the spot for two holiday-tired parents of young children. We drank it in hopes of being able to stay up till midnight. It worked. I can’t wait to try more of these recipes, including some of the non-pho items like rice paper salad rolls and spicy chicken slaw.
If you’d like to buy this book you can find it here. This is an affiliate link, so if you click through I make a small commission. Thank you for reading!
I am a mom of two and wife to a martial arts school owner, full-time social media professional and avid cook and gardener. I love creating recipes and involving my kids in the process. The food we cook is usually dairy-free and gluten-free, and sometimes paleo, but we make exceptions (ahem, sourdough bread). The “hippie” part of this blog comes into play in the ingredients we use—I’m pretty vigilant about the health of my family and you could even call me “crunchy.” The “modern” part is that I am busy! You won’t catch me making my own nut milk or churning butter (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’m more than happy to take the shortcuts provided by our lovely grocery stores and online shopping —especially in the midst of this global pandemic.