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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Banh Pho (Vietnamese Flat Thin Rice Noodles)

Banh Pho (Vietnamese Flat Thin Rice Noodles) 1

While most non-Vietnamese associate the word pho with Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), banh pho actually refers to the flat, thin rice noodles. There are two types of banh pho noodles, which are sometimes called rice sticks (I have no idea why.).

On the left, in the photos above and below, is banh pho tuoi (Vietnamese fresh rice noodles) and on the right is the dried version. The difference is that the fresh rice noodles only have to be plunged in boiling water for mere seconds before they are soft. The dried noodles obviously need to be boiled for several minutes longer.

Banh Pho (Vietnamese Flat Thin Rice Noodles) 2

Banh pho is made with just rice and water, suitable for the gluten-free trend that seems to be popular lately.

The width of the noodles may vary from very thin to about 1/4-inch, but banh pho will always refer to flat rice noodles. Round rice noodles are called bun, but that's a lesson for another day.

Banh Pho (Vietnamese Flat Thin Rice Noodles) 3

These are also the same noodles used in Pad Thai and sometime substituted in Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Barbecued Pork and Shrimp), although I prefer clear tapioca noodles for that.

As for brands, I've always been pleased with Three Ladies' products from rice to rice paper to rice noodles. Since fresh rice noodles have a shorter shelf life, I suggest looking for brands from companies that were produced in your area. When all else fails, I sometimes go with the cheapest or whichever one is seems more popular (evidenced by the empty shelves).

Banh pho may cost anywhere from 99 cents to $3 depending on location.

Recipes that feature banh pho:
Pho Ap Chao Bo 1Pho Ap Chao Bo (Vietnamese Pan-Fried Rice Noodles Sauteed with Beef)
Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) 1Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) 8Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

1 year ago today, Ca Ri Ni An Do (Vietnamese Madras Indian Curry Powder).
2 years ago today, Fried Rice with Kimchee and Spam.


  1. Glad I found this! I just went to an international market today and I got some cool stuff but I ignored the noodles because I felt like I didn't know anything about them...but I think I'll pick up some of these next time.

  2. PresleyAnne,
    Yay! It's nice to know my tips are helpful for someone. It's always fun to explore unfamiliar ingredients.

  3. This was very educational and I really appreciated the good pictures and info. I ♥ Pho!

  4. Pho Vietnam reminds me of the old days. Now, I've grown up but still could not forget their homeland

  5. I watched a video on Banh Pho tuoi fresh rice noodles. Not only are these noodles prepared by a banned cancer causing chemical, this company use PLASTIC made to look and feel just like the rice noodles.

    Be very careful of what you eat people.

  6. Sokchay,
    I saw the video too, but think it was probably an isolated incident. Some parts of the packaging probably got shredded into the bag or something. I think I can tell if I'm eating plastic. :P Also, the noodles are made in the U.S. I'm pretty sure whatever they're using passed health inspection or else they wouldn't be allowed. Just inspect your food before you eat it and I'm sure you'll be fine.

  7. Just like making fresh pasta from scratch are there any recipes on making pho noodles from scratch? I haven't been able to come across anything on the internet

  8. Noodle Fanatic,
    I saw a photo of fresh rice noodles hung over a pole to dry just like fresh Italian pasta. It was really cool. No clue on how to make them at home though.


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