PHỞ GÀ / VIETNAMESE CHICKEN PHO
For a lot of Viet Nam, pho is a very typical meal … like pizza! But here in America, pho is probably one of the most popular and well-known meals of Vietnamese cuisine. And like pizza, there are many ways to cook up a bowl of pho. Everyone has their own personal preferences, so each bowl of pho is going to taste slightly different than the last. But the most important part of the meal, and what makes each bowl of pho unique, is the broth.
I make it a goal to make sure my broth is sweet. My secret ingredient? Fruits. Sweet fruits, to be exact. Sweet fruits that won’t turn to mush when cooked. I also don’t add too much seasoning to the broth. It’s perfectly okay—and actually, recommened—that the broth doesn’t taste “just right” for your taste buds. It’s okay that the broth is a bit plain. If you’re cooking for a group of people, everyone’s taste buds are going to differ. When it comes time to serve, that’s when each person’s individual seasoning preferences can be placed in their own separate bowl.
It’s also important to make sure the chicken is thoroughly clean before adding it to the pot. This recipe will have you wash the chicken twice. Once with vinegar and salt, and once more with boiled water. A well-cleaned chicken is going to ensure clearer broth.
Just like the cold chicken recipe, you’ll want to use an empress/walking chicken for this recipe as well—use a chicken with little/no fat if possible. Most Vietnamese chicken pho you’ll find in America uses chicken meat that is knife-cut because it’s convenient to mass produce. The “authentic” way to make Vietnamese chicken pho, though, is to actually tear or shred the chicken meat using your hands. Sometimes clean-cut isn’t always the best way to go about something…
If there is time between when the broth is finished cooking and serving, depending on the length of time, it’s alright to leave the broth on the stove at the lowest heat setting. This way, it’ll be faster to bring it to a soft boil before adding the broth to the noodles.
Speaking of the noodles—I’ve recently come up with a much quicker and efficient way to prepare the rice noodles. For the last few decades, to soften them, I would rinse the noodles and bean sprouts in a boiling water. I recently experienced with a few different techniques and a ziplock bag and microwave was the winner!
Vietnamese chicken pho is such a common meal in our household, that I’ve been making it for decades without actually ever knowing the exact measurements of any of the ingredients! This recipe took a long time to jot down because there are so many little steps. If you make this, please let me know if you have any questions!
Vietnamese Chicken PhoPrint Recipe
- 1 whole empress/walking chicken
- 32 oz fresh rice stick noodles (approx. 2 bags)
- 2 sweet apples
- 2 pears
- 1 small green papaya
- 1/2 white cabbage
- 2 lbs bean spouts
- 1 white onion
- 2 oz ginger
- 1 oz garlic
- 2 oz shallots
- 2 tbsp salt
- vinegar & salt (to wash the chicken)
- 1 oz white rock sugar
- 2 tbsp Vietnamese chicken flavored soup base
- 1 package Vietnamese special spices for pho
- 1.5 sq ft cheesecloth
- 1 large ziplock bag
- 17 cups water
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp mushroom seasoning
- 7-8 red chili pepper
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 2 limes/lemons
- 1 batch scallion
- 1 batch Vietnamese coriander (cilantro can be used as an alternative)
- 3 oz Thai basil
- 1/2 cup fried onion
- Wash and peel white onion. Cut into 6 pieces. Place onto an oven pan.
- Wash and peel shallots and garlic. Add to oven pan.
- Wash ginger. Slice into smaller pieces. Add to oven pan.
- Place pan into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Peel and remove seeds from apples, papaya, and pears. Along with the cabbage, set aside.
- Using scissors—cut fresh rick stick noodles into smaller length, approx. 5 inches. Set aside.
- Wash the chicken with vinegar and salt. Raise with water. Set aside in a large bowl or pot.
Cooking—chicken and broth
- In a large cooking pot—add the 17 cups of water and set to medium-high heat.
- Boil water, either in another pot or kettle. Pour boiled water over chicken. Use the boiled water to give the chicken a second wash.
- When water in cooking pot starts to boil, add chicken, fruits, and cabbage.
- Add salt and sugar.
- Place baked vegetables onto a cheesecloth. Tie the cheesecloth with a tight knot. Add to cooking pot.
- Keep an eye on the broth—skim the impurities from the chicken that’ll float up while the broth is simmering. This will help ensure a clear broth.
- Cook the chicken broth for 35-45 minutes, or until chicken is done.
- Remove chicken. Set aside to cool.
- Decrease broth to low heat—this is important!
- When chicken cools—remove bones from the chicken and place bones back in the broth.
- Continue keeping an eye on the broth—do not fully close the pot with a lid to avoid overspilling.
- Using your hands—tear the chicken meat into small, edible pieces. Discard the skin if preferred. Set aside.
- 1 hour before serving—add a package of special spices for pho. Be careful; do not let the package break!
- Continue to cook the broth for an hour on low heat.
- After the hour, remove everything from the broth—leaving the broth clear. Use a filter if needed.
- Add soup base.
- The broth is done when the soup base dissolves. Broth should be clear.
Cooking—sides & dipping sauce
- Wash remaining vegetables.
- Dice scallion leaves and coriander. Combine and set aside.
- Cut limes/lemons into 6 pieces, avoiding the core.
- Using scissors—cut red chili peppers into small pieces. In a small bowl, combine with fish sauce.
- Wash 4 oz noodles and 3 oz bean sprouts under running water.
- Place noodles and bean sprouts in a ziplock bag. Don’t close the bag completely; leave a small opening for air pressure to release.
- Microwave for 70-90 seconds, according to your microwave settings.
- Bring broth to a soft boil before serving—this is important!
- Place noodles and bean sprouts into a serving bowl. 18oz or bigger is recommended.
- Add desirable-amount of chicken (approx. 3 oz.)
- Add desirable-amounts of sugar and mushroom seasoning (approx. 1 tsp each.)
- Add desirable-amount of broth. Covering the noodles is recommended.
- Add desirable-amounts of scallion leaves and coriander combination, pepper, and fried onions.
- Serve with a separate plate of the sides: limes/lemons, Thai basil, and red chili dipping sauce.
If you don't have an oven to bake the vegetables, "BBQing" them over the stove works just as well. Cooking instructions for noodles and steps 2-6 of serving instructions are intended to make one bowl. Repeat for additional bowls.