There are over 5000 Vietnamese nationals and people of Vietnamese descent living in the UAE. Their culture and love of food have filtered into the mainstream culinary scene in Dubai.
Jumeirah Lakes Towers (more commonly known as JLT) is one of the most popular foodie neighbourhoods in the Emirate, and it's where you can find one of the three branches of Vietnamese Foodies, the brainchild of Lily Hoa Nguyen. One of the most popular national dishes on her menu is pho, and Lily explained to Euronews just how integral it is to the national diet.
"Vietnamese people cannot survive without pho! This is a dish that you can find anywhere in the world where there are Vietnamese people", she said.
Many of the ingredients used are locally sourced in the United Arab Emirates, such as mint and coriander. However, to make the dish as authentic as possible, she imports many spices directly from Vietnam, such as cardamom, cinnamon and star anise. Lily added, "this allows the dish to have the exact same taste as it does in Vietnam".
The taste of pho in the north of Vietnam is plain and more suited to a pure palate. In contrast, pho consumed in the south is packed with flavours. As a proud Ho Chi Minh, southern native, Lily told Euronews that she likes "a lot of texture, colour and a flavour" in her food.
The key to a good pho is apparently in the broth. In the north, the bones used to create the broth are not roasted. As a result, the broth is less brown in colour. Lily explained that the bone choice for the broth is essential and can dramatically improve the taste of the dish. She said, "don't just use any bone. You should use a knuckle bone which contains more marrow in it. This will give your broth a better taste".
If cooking a pho for the first time, Lily suggests avoiding the common mistake of not using enough bones in the broth. Adding "having more bones will give the broth a deeper flavour".
Pho Bo Chin Recipe
Prep Time: 30mins
Cooking Time: 1 hour
1. 1kg boneless beef shank
2. 3 ltr of beef broth (recipe below for broth)
3. 2 cinnamon sticks
4. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
5. 1 tbsp sugar
6. 2 tsp salt
7. 2 tbsp fish sauce
8. 0.5kg dry rice noodle (rice sticks)
9. 2 tbsp green onions chopped
10. 200gr bean sprouts for garnishing
11. Handful Thai basil
12. Handful of sawtooth coriander on the side
Boil 3 ltr of beef broth.
Add 1kg of beef shank in the beef broth for 1 hour on medium heat until just cooked but not too soft.
Remove the meat and slice it into 3mm thin slices.
Roast the spices (cinnamon, coriander seeds) on a hot cooking pan for 2 minutes to bring out the flavour.
Put them in a tea bag and place it in the broth.
Note: you should do this step just 30 minutes before serving.
Finally, season the broth with black pepper, salt and fish sauce.
Cook the rice noodle as instructed on the package.
Once ready to serve, warm up the noodle, then pour boiling broth over it.
Garnish with slices of meat, chopped green onions, bean sprouts and serve piping hot with Thai basil on the side.
Beef Broth (serves 4) for pho
Prep Time: 30mins
Cooking Time: 8 to 14 hours (maximum 14 hours)
1. 1kg beef bones
2. 1 large brown onion
3. A piece of ginger (about 20gr)
4. 3 star anise, 2 black cardamoms
5. 1tsp salt
6. 3 ltr drinking water
Peel and wash the onion.
Chop them roughly into big chunks.
Charbroil the ginger, then peel off the burnt skin and crush it lightly.
Roast the star anise and cardamom.
Roast the beef bones in the oven for 1 hour at 200-degree Celsius.
In a medium pot, add the roasted beef bones, water, onion & ginger, star anise, and cardamom, bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
Add salt, then simmer for 6 hours. Let cool and strain before use.