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Is Pho Gluten Free? Navigating The Gluten Free Status Of This Glorious Broth And Noodle Dish

One of my favourite meals is a steaming bowl of pho, but is pho gluten free? Today is your lucky day because I am here to tell you that pho is gluten free! If you’re like me and just love a big bowl of noodle soup, then a bowl of hot pho is for you. However, I would suggest being vigilant as there is still a risk of being glutened depending on where you get your pho from. There are a few things you need to keep an eye out for to ensure it is safe to eat for those with a gluten allergy. 

What is Pho and is Pho Gluten Free?

gluten free beef pho

Pho originates from Vietnam and is a soup made from bone broth (usually beef), rice noodles, meat and added herbs. Beef bones are cooked for hours on end, making the flavourful broth with a depth of flavour. Spices are also added to the broth to get that unique pho flavour.

You can get a variety of different types of pho, but the classic is Phở Gà (chicken pho) or Phở Bò (beef pho) where the meat is added to the piping hot broth, rice noodles and herbs. The interesting thing about pho is that the ingredients and the broth change depending on where you are in the country. It is said to be Vietnam’s national dish, and is a very popular street food to eat not only in Vietnam but the world! I am lucky enough to live next to a suburb where the Vietnamese community is prominent, which means I have access to the best authentic Vietnamese pho! 

Are Rice Noodles Gluten Free?

Thankfully rice noodles (banh pho in Vietnamese) are made with rice and water and are naturally gluten free. Wider rice noodles make an appearance in Pho, which are a similar width to fettuccine. You can buy rice noodles either fresh or dried. Be careful with fresh rice noodles as they have added starch to keep them separated, and it could be wheat starch. This is the case with one of the Vietnamese restaurants I like to visit, I have to opt for dried rice noodles to ensure it is 100% gluten free.

Potential Gluten in Pho

Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is not gluten free and luckily it is not a common ingredient in traditional Vietnamese pho. It is commonly added to recipes found online and even though it isn’t authentic, it may be added as a flavour enhancer. Just to be safe, be sure to ask if there has been any extra soy sauce added. 

Hoisin Sauce: Hoisin sauce is not gluten free and should be avoided. Traditionally, Hoisin sauce is a condiment seen on the table at most Vietnamese restaurants and is added after the pho is served by the diner. It is not traditionally added in the broth, but always ask to be sure.

Toppings: Usually the toppings such as beef or chicken are plain pieces of meat that aren’t marinated, which are safe for a gluten free diet. However, meatballs do contain gluten so avoid those.

See Also: Is Dextrose Gluten Free?

Gluten Free Pho Toppings

gluten free beef pho

Thinly sliced beef (Phở Bò): The beef used in Vietnamese pho is usually not marinated, therefore gluten free, and can be placed in the soup raw. It will cook in the hot broth due to the thinness of the meat right in front of your eyes!

Beef brisket: This tender, fall apart in your mouth beef is usually gluten free. Always ask to see if there has been any extra marinade on the beef, however, traditionally there wouldn’t have been any additional flavouring.

Chicken (Phở Gà): Shredded chicken is added to the broth and rice noodles and is usually without any marinades so is naturally gluten free. Chicken pho is my personal favourite, and I recommend anyone trying pho for the first time to try the chicken pho. 

See Also: Gluten Free Chinese Food

Quick Pho Recipe

Pho is usually quite time consuming to make as you have to boil down bones to make the bone broth. It is worth it as the broth has a unique depth of flavour, especially from the aromatics that are added such as star anise, cinnamon, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cloves and cardamom. If you don’t have the time to be at the stove for 6 plus hours, here is a quick version for you to make at home using stock from the supermarket!

Want to know which Thai food is gluten free?

Conclusion: Is Pho Gluten Free?

gluten free beef pho

Authentic and traditional pho should not contain any gluten as it is made from boiling bones for hours on end to produce a wonderful, tasty broth. The broth, paired with rice noodles, herbs such as mint and Thai basil, and the meat toppings make a delicious meal that is also very healthy. You will find pho on the menu at any Vietnamese restaurant. If you want a guaranteed gluten free meal and the pho has been traditionally made without the addition of sauces containing gluten, then this is a great option for those with a gluten allergy. 

Want to know what other cuisines are gluten free? See this post!

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