Pho is a Vietnamese soup that can be made with beef or chicken. Pho, to the best of my knowledge has something of a cult following among foodies and I was excited to try it out for myself. Pho is popular because of the amazing stock that is used to make the soup. The stock is flavored with star anise, cloves, cinnamon, lemongrass and nutmeg.* A list of ingredients and garnishes can be found here. I have never tried beef pho and this is the first time I have ever had chicken pho. Even though I don’t have any prior experience for comparison I really enjoyed this dish and I can see why it is so popular. The broth is really clean and fragrant and the flavors of the garnishes mixed with the noodles and broth are so good. The ingredients are basic but when eaten all together the flavors are more amazing than the sum of its parts. The star of pho is the beef soup and if the chicken version is as good as this was, I look forward to making that one too!
*I used ground spices for my soup but with most pho recipes it will require whole spices (I would imagine some pho purists would think this to be sacrilege). I thought the ground spices were great–I just made sure to strain the broth twice to remove the spice particles to get a clearer and cleaner broth.
Phở Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Soup)
(Makes 8 Servings)
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 large yellow onions, halved
- 3 cloves garlic, halved
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp anise. ground
- 1 1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
- 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
- 1 1/2 tsp lemongrass, ground
- 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 8 servings rice noodles (cooked as directed on package)
- 8 qts. water
- handful bean sprouts
- several leaves thai basil, sliced
- handful cilantro, loosely chopped
- handful green onions, chopped
- jalapeno peppers, sliced
- limes, sliced
- hoisin sauce
- chili sauce (I used sriracha)
- Over an open flame, lightly char the onion halves and knobs of ginger with a pair of tongs for several minutes.
- In a 10 qt. sauce pot, add the onions, garlic, dry spices, salt, ginger, palm sugar, fish sauce, and whole chicken into the pot. Add water until the chicken is covered.
- Cover and simmer the chicken on medium-low for 60-90 minutes, or until the inside of the chicken has reached 180 degrees.
- Remove the chicken from the broth and shred. Set aside the bones for the broth.
- With a strainer lined with cheese cloth (or a paper towel), pour the broth through the strainer to remove the spice particles and onions.
- Pour the stock back into the same pot and add the chicken bones. Simmer on low for another 2-3 hours. (At this point, you could easily refrigerate the stock overnight and skim the fat the next day but I skipped this step and it was still awesome).
- Remove the bones, and strain through a cloth or towel once again.
- Cook the rice noodles as directed on package and place 1 serving of rice and shredded chicken into soup bowls.
- Pour the broth over the noodles and garnish with basil, limes, cilantro, green onion, bean sprouts, jalapeno slices and sauces.