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Do you add the hoisin and sriracha to the pho broth?

I recently came to the realization that all pho broth tastes pretty much the same if you put a ton of hoisin and sriracha in there. It was only when I stopped adding them (maybe just a little sriracha for heat) that I started being able to really distinguish between good and great pho broth.

Is it traditional to dump a lot of hoisin and hot sauce in pho? Or do you put them on the side and dip the meats into them (as I've heard from one source)? I wonder if including hoisin and sriracha with pho is an American thing, or if it's traditional in Vietnam too.

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  1. I dip the tofu and veggies from my pho in hoisin/sriracha. I might add a little chili sauce to the broth if I'm feeling that. I have never heard of putting the hoisin and sriracha directly into the broth.

    1 Reply
    1. re: antennastoheaven

      I've never really like the feel of straight-up hoisin as a dipping sauce. It feels to thick. I have mixed hoisin and siracha and diluted it with a bit of soy sauce or water to get a more liquid sauce, but the last time I did that, I was eating rotisserie chicken.

    2. So glad you stopped dumping hoisin and sriracha into your phở broth. To me it simply overwhelms the delicate taste and aromatic properties of the broth as you have now found.

      Some Southern Vietnamese may add hoisin to the broth, but Northern Vietnamese frown on it.
      http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/...
      http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/b...

      I have read of USAmerican folks who think phở is not sufficiently KAPOW! WHAM! KABOOM!!! in taste to them and dump in hoisin *and* sriracha then still say it tastes blah to them.

      10 Replies
      1. re: huiray

        The Northern Vietnamese also don't typically include the plate on the side with things such as sprouts or Thai basil.

        I say that you should do what you like, but you should be aware of your options. I typically taste the broth first, then decide how much hoisin or siracha, if any I feel like putting in. I'm more likely to add more than just a touch of hoisin sauce if the broth feels like it is lacking in the umami department. People who automatically add condiments are like people who automatically season with salt or pepper without tasting first.

        I judge pho eaters more on how willing they are to consume tripe/tendon with their soup than how much hoisin they add to the bowl.

        1. re: FoodPopulist

          "The Northern Vietnamese also don't typically include the plate on the side with things such as sprouts or Thai basil."
          --------
          Correct.

          -------------------
          "I judge pho eaters more on how willing they are to consume tripe/tendon with their soup than how much hoisin they add to the bowl."
          --------
          For myself I think I would be saddened more by the hoisin+sriracha dumping. The texture of tripe/tendon may indeed be a severe turn-off for some folks.

          Also for myself I have *never* added hoisin or sriracha to my phở broth - or even used any of either as a dip for the meats etc.

          1. re: FoodPopulist

            I do the same with adding a little hoisin if I feel the broth is lacking. I always add herbs and bean sprouts, always dip the meat in a mix of hoisin and sriracha, usually just eat the lime or lemon. Usually leave some noodles, I wish I could get less noodles and more broth but I've been unsuccessful in getting servers to understand that.

            The strange thing I've noticed lately in places in both New York and Maryland is Asian, (I assume Vietnamese), people eating the noodles and leaving most of the broth.

            1. re: michelley

              I think that is fairly typical it is the same here in the Bay Area.

              As for you stock:noodle problem Just order a small bowl and ask for an extra bowl of broth on the side. I often see extra bowl of stock brought out to diners here.

              1. re: chefj

                Thanks! I will try that. Once, there was no omosa in my soup and they brought out some tripe in broth.

              2. re: michelley

                "The strange thing I've noticed lately in places in both New York and Maryland is Asian, (I assume Vietnamese), people eating the noodles and leaving most of the broth."
                -------------
                Nothing strange about that to me. It's the same principle as eating white rice 'accompanied' by small portions of meat and larger amounts of vegetables. I myself might drink most of the broth but often do not.

                Similarly, East/SE Asian noodle soups of many kinds are commonly consumed in like fashion - the ingredients and noodles are usually eaten and the broth or soup often only partially drunk. In many such cases the soup has been made more salty/intense so as to provide appropriate flavor when the noodles and other stuff is consumed, so some folks would also find the leftover soup (or other stocks like laksa broth) at the end just "too salty" (or too thick/rich/much) to finish off by itself.

                Yes, Westerners/Caucasian folks might tend to eat far more meat, meat and more meat - plus a bite of vegetables maybe - with their starch as some bread or potatoes.

                1. re: huiray

                  You're quite right, I wonder if they make the broth milder for us, knowing that is the case. I also notice that we always eat all of the herbs and most of the sprouts, the Vietnamese families not so much. This goes for the lettuce and mint with the spring rolls too.

                2. re: michelley

                  Traditionally pho is a vehicle for noodles, not a soup. Many Vietnamese don't even finish the broth. I was surprised to learn that on my visits to Vietnam.

                  1. re: michelley

                    I'm vietnamese and I rarely drink the broth at the end. It's just way too loaded with sodium and MSG. There have only been a couple times where the pho was so good that I was compelled to consume every last drop of it. Most of the time though, it's just not worth feeling thirsty for the rest of the entire day

                    1. re: takadi

                      I guess our usual place is really good, (most of the time that is, sometimes midweek I feel that they've watered it), because it's not that salty, and I know what you mean because some places I've been in and out of town are very salty and msg laden.

              3. A South Vietnamese friend taught me to taste first then add as needed or wanted. She suggested when adding Hosin and Sriracha to make a smiley face using the Sriracha to make the circle and the Tương to for the eyes and mouth. Cutesy but a good place to start and keeps a much lighter hand for those unfamiliar with Phở

                1. I do! But I do taste first to determine how much to add.

                  To me the hoisin adds depth and the sriracha adds heat. I don't add the jalapenos or fresh hot peppers since that's too hot for me!

                  1. I taste then add. Sometimes some sriracha, sometimes a squirt of lime, sometimes basil, and usually sprouts. If I don't add the sriracha to the broth I'll mix it with some hoisin in a dish and dip the meat in it.