When fall approaches and the temperature goes colder, the cravings for a warm, savory soup also wake up. In Vietnam, the change of season is celebrated with pho – a bowl of hot, soupy noodles full of protein and other nutrients.
However, the rich cuisine is often hesitant by Muslims, thinking that the broth of Vietnamese pho is usually halal?
Here is what you should know:
There is no one fixed answer to whether or not the broth of Vietnamese pho halal. The Islamic ruling considers meat halal if it is not pork and is slaughtered according to the permitted method. Most Vietnamese restaurants prepare pho using pork, which makes the cuisine haram.
Yet, even with the several pho variations (chicken/beef), the animal should be slaughtered according to Islamic ruling; otherwise, pho broth would be haram. Thus, eating pho from a Muslim restaurant that prepares the broth (meat) according to permitted regulations would be halal. Else, vegetarian pho is always a great option to consume when one is unsure about the meat in pho.
Let’s learn more about Vietnamese pho in the following guide, including what pho is, its origins, several variations, and what makes pho halal!
Pho (pronounced as fuh) is a popular Vietnamese cuisine comprising broth, noodles, meat, and a long list of toppings. Apart from being a comfort food cherished throughout the globe, it wouldn’t be wrong to consider pho the national dish of Vietnam. It is savory and rich, full of nutrients, and satisfies hunger.
There is much debate about the origins of pho, but the commonly accepted belief is that pho was a popular dish in North Vietnam before the 1950s. After the country was divided in 1954, immigrants from North Vietnam brought their culture to South Vietnam, so pho was introduced overseas.
However, other sources also link the origins of pho to France, believing the cuisine is a newer version of French beef stew (which goes by the name “pot au feu”). Others consider pho as having roots in Chinese cuisine.
Nevertheless, pho in today’s world is everyone’s favorite, thanks to its super-healthy, rich ingredients. You can find noodles, meat, a soupy broth, and toppings to take its taste to the next level.
Moreover, the best thing about pho is that there is never one recipe always prepared. Every ingredient of pho can be substituted for what you desire; thus, you can create a new version of the dish and still call it pho!
Such a variation in the cuisine is greatly a result of the differences between northern and southern Vietnamese pho. North Vietnam still preserves the traditional pho and prepares its Pho Bac with simple ingredients (clear broth, wider noodles, and green onions).
South Vietnam loves to experiment with the dish, and you’ll find its Pho Nam prepared with a variety of ingredients (fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges, chiles, onions, etc.). Pho Nam also has thin noodles, bold broth, and a handful of toppings compared to Pho Bac.
Whether you are a Muslim, Jew, or Christian, there are certain foods forbidden in each religion. As for Islam, there is much controversy over whether or not Muslims should consume pho, especially is the broth of Vietnamese pho usually halal? Let’s find out!
When the term “halal” is mentioned, it refers to food permitted to be consumed by Islamic law, as written in the Qur’an. The following is the regulation regarding halal food, as mentioned in the Qur’an:
“Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience…” ~ Quran [5:3]
Hence, under this ruling, meat is considered halal if
- It is not a dead animal.
- It does not contain any blood.
- It is not of swine (pigs).
- It is slaughtered in the name of Allah.
- It is slaughtered in a certain way (not by strangling/a violent blow/a head-long fall/goring of horns/consumed by wild animals before it is slaughtered)
Considering pho, its primary ingredients typically are:
- rice noodles
- broth (prepared from meat)
- herbs (/toppings)
Let’s see if this makes pho haram or halal:
Rice noodles are, of course, made from rice flour and water. Sometimes, another ingredient like tapioca or cornstarch is added to make noodles clearer and chewy. All of this is halal.
This is where the concern comes about if the broth of Vietnamese pho is usually halal. According to recent calculations, Muslims make up 0.10% of the total population in Vietnam in 2022.
Thus, given that the majority of Vietnamese people do not practice Islam and that purchasing halal meat requires more work and money than purchasing ordinary meat, the answer to whether pho is halal would be probably no. That is, Vietnamese pho is usually prepared with pork which makes the broth of the pho haram.
However, as stated earlier, pho never has one fixed recipe, and there is always room for variations. The traditional Vietnamese pho is prepared using pork, but modern-day pho has several variations, including chicken or beef.
Yet, still, it is a must for the meat to be slaughtered in a certain way in the name of Allah to be counted as halal. That being said, just because a Vietnamese restaurant sells pho prepared in beef/chicken broth does not mean it would be halal.
And because the broth is prepared from meat, adding pork will ultimately make the broth haram too. The good thing is that some Vietnamese restaurants owned by Muslims offer halal pho broth, as it uses halal meat sacrificed per Islam’s rulings.
Lastly, herbs or toppings in a bowl of pho can be selected from a variety of ingredients. It entirely depends on which herbs you add to your pho broth to make it halal.
In the light of everything mentioned above, there cannot be a fixed answer to whether Vietnamese pho broth is halal or not since it mainly depends on which meat is added and from where you are ordering the pho.
If you eat from a non-Muslim restaurant, the pho broth may have pork in it. And even if there is no pork and the pho is prepared using chicken or beef, there still remains the question of whether or not the animal was slaughtered in a halal way.
However, contrary to that, ordering pho from a Muslim restaurant would be prepared considering Islamic regulations, and thus, it would be halal.
Due to this confusion, many Muslims find it hard to eat pho. The simple solution is to go to a Muslim restaurant, or if you are eating from a non-Muslim restaurant, you can fill your cravings with vegetarian pho!
Pho is a popular dish in Vietnam and is usually made with rice noodles, meat, broth, and toppings. In Islam, meat is considered halal if it is not pork, and the animal is slaughtered according to the defined Islamic method.
So, as far as the broth of Vietnamese pho is usually halal is concerned, you should note that it depends on the meat added and how the animal was slaughtered. The chances of pho being halal at a non-Islamic restaurant are lower than the pho prepared in an Islamic restaurant.
Nevertheless, vegetarian pho is always available as a safe side for those confused about whether or not the pho available at a certain restaurant is halal.