Pho is Vietnamese comfort soup, think noodle soup with an extra kick. The fragrant broth, made with either chicken or beef is seasoned with coriander, cloves, star anise and the secret ingredient, fish sauce. Before eating one will garnish the soup with bean sprouts, cilantro, chili peppers, limes, and an assortment of other delicious sauces. We love this recipe for a Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho Ga.
I remember the first time I Pho, it was with my friend, Lily. Lily and her boyfriend who was from Laos, took me to this little hole in the wall in the tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco. We were in our twenties and had clearly overindulged the night before and he promised this would be the ultimate cure for what ailed us.
We sat down at this big circular table and a small frail woman gave us 3 very tall coffees that were sweetened with condensed milk. Next, she sat down platters of fresh basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, limes, chilies, mint along with little bowls of different sauces. Finally a very hot bowl of broth with rice noodles and another platter of thinly sliced beef arrived. We spent the next hour slurping noodles and ladling spoonfuls of warm broth into our broken bodies. He was right, we felt so much better afterward. That was my first introduction to Pho.
Lenny and I both love Pho, in fact, every time we go out to Vietnamese food, which is not often enough, it is a must order. I have always wanted to make it at home but have never found an easy recipe, until now.
Since I was pressed on time, I decided to go the shortcut route and use prepared chicken stock. Jaden’s recipe was fairly straightforward. I simmered a very succulent chicken breast with the along with the stock and spices, over very low heat for 45 minutes, which left me with an amazingly moist and juicy breast. The stock was very flavorful from simmering with the spices and chicken, once I added the addition of fresh chilies, cilantro, limes, and hoisin sauce it was outstanding. One addition that I have never had with Pho is slivers of red onion, this a refreshing surprise.
This recipe made enough for us to have leftovers for lunch the next day. I packaged the broth and noodles separately from the everything else, and reheated the next day. The stock was even more flavorful.
Thank you, Jaden for being our hostess this month and for picking the perfect comfort food for dinner. We will be adding this to our regular rotation of must eats!
Recipe: Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho Ga
For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone-in or boneless)
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with the side of the knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
Have the accompaniments spread out on the table? Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.