When we moved to the Twin Cities from North Dakota in 1999, we were stunned by all of the wonderful restaurants. More specifically, the ethnic food choices were mind boggling. We simply did not have access to these types of food where we grew up. One of the very first places we tried was a small Vietnamese restaurant on the Midway in St. Paul. It had recently been in the paper for having one of the best bowls of pho in town and the photograph that accompanied the article made my mouth water. I didn’t know what pho was, but I knew I had to try it– and it. was. wonderful. We still go to that restaurant occasionally during the Winter months, though now it’s more likely that you’ll find me making this dish at home.
It’s quite simple to make a delicious bowl of pho ga that can come together quickly so long as you have the homemade chicken broth ready. And again, here you’ll want to use the homemade broth– it’ll make the difference. I generally pull a couple of jars of broth and some shredded, cooked chicken from the freezer just a little while before we want to sit down for dinner. Pho is all about a simple, flavorful base– some chicken, some rice noodles, and then load the top with fresh ingredients. No two bowls of pho are identical, at least not in our house, because we all add our own little additions. I love fish sauce and sriracha mixed into my broth– my kids, not so much. I also load mine up with jalapeños, basil, sprouts, and a healthy squeeze of lime. It’s sublime.
This soup will warm your body and if it were possible to do– I believe that it may actually warm your soul. Think of a snowy, cold night tucked in at home. Light a candle or two and nuzzle in. Slurp on a bowl of this soup with your family or friends. It makes the Winter months that much more enjoyable.
The Recipe: Pho Ga | Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup
2 quarts homemade chicken broth (imperative for this recipe)
3- inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
5 whole cloves
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
2 whole star anise
5 whole allspice berries
1 package (about 14 ounces) thin dried rice noodles
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
About 4 cups shredded chicken, (save from when making broth OR boil or bake chicken breasts/thighs)
1 bunch of fresh basil, regular or Thai, for garnish
fresh bean sprouts, for garnish
2 fresh jalapeños, for garnish
1-2 fresh limes, quartered, for garnish
Serve with the following condiments: fish sauce, sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce, red chili paste, and soy sauce
For this recipe, I’m assuming you have homemade chicken broth at the ready. If you don’t– make some immediately. If you don’t have time to wait the full 24 hours for it to simmer, that’s fine. Three hours or so, will work. Follow these instructions and add the pho ga broth spices (fresh ginger, cloves, allspice berries, coriander seeds, and star anise) right into the pot. Note: You will have much more broth than the recipe calls for, but that’s not entirely a bad thing. You may want to up the amount of spices, as well.
Begin by adding two quarts of homemade chicken broth to a large saucepan or kettle. Place the ginger into the pot along with a spice sachet or cheesecloth tied with string filled with the cloves, allspice berries, coriander seeds, and star anise. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium simmer and let cook for about 45 minutes, so that the flavors can infuse.
Meanwhile, when the broth is nearly finished, cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions (I generally cook them for less time than suggested)– they don’t take very long to cook, so keep a watchful eye. You do not want the noodles to become mush. Fill your individual bowls with the rice noodles, shredded chicken, some sliced white onion, a bit of cilantro, and sliced scallions.
Remove the ginger and spice sachet from the broth. Ladle the hot broth into the noodle filled bowls. Serve with accompaniments– fresh basil, bean sprouts, fresh jalapeño, and lime. Along with the condiments– fish sauce, sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and red chili paste. Enjoy!
I hope you are all having a wonderful week so far. Take Care!