The weather changed today, I thought it would be hot for the rest of the week but it took me by surprise with the sprinkling of rain drops this morning when I left home for work. Immediately I thought of Pho, the perfect hot and steamy noodle soup for this kind of weather. And since I still have the chicken that my mother-in-law gave me last weekend, Chicken Pho is on our menu for dinner tonight.
In contrast to Beef Pho (Pho Bo), a renown Vietnamese traditional rice noodle soup that has traveled through many continents, chicken pho has a subtle flavor yet delicious in its own way and a lot simpler and quicker to prepare. With the help of my lovely hubby, I was able to serve dinner in a little more than an hour after got home from work. This mission would be impossible if I was to cook Beef Pho for dinner because the cooking process would involve the whole day if not two to prepare. The chicken pho broth is a lot leaner and healthier than the beef pho soup, but there is definitely no lack in flavor as one would usually think in the healthier version of food.
The ingredients and the cooking process is very similar to the beef pho version, but the cooking duration is a lot shorter for chicken pho. If you are not a big fan of beef or trying to cook Pho for the first time, chicken pho is something that you may definitely want to consider. The star anise, the coriander seed and the cinnamon flavors in the spices combine with the earthy flavor of ginger and slightly pungent sweetness of onion creating a very unique flavor for Pho. When served with bean sprout, basil, lime juice and a Vietnamese herb called "rau ram", everything comes together harmoniously in the soup creating an irresistible fragrant and flavor. I also prepared the shredded chicken with the pickled onion mixed with rau ram and fried shallots drizzled with the ginger fish sauce (nuoc mam gung) to be served as a side salad (called "goi ga"). With the perfect weather, the hot steamy noodle soup and the chicken salad are the combo to die for. Well, enough said or I will make somebody drools:)! Let's get started!
For Pho broth:
1. 1 medium size chicken
2. 1 medium white or yellow onion (charred and cleaned)
3. 2 small knobs of ginger (charred and cleaned)
4. star anise, cinnamon, coriander seeds (see picture on the left)
5. 1 small piece of rock sugar, salt, Vietnamese seasoning (bot nem)
6. Pho rice noodle (soaked in hot water)
7. Bean sprout, basil, "rau ram", lime wedges, red chili pepper, fried shallots, chopped scallion and cilantro, hoisin sauce and Sriracha hot sauce
For the ginger fish sauce:
Combine 8 tsp of sugar with 1 tbsp of vinegar, 5 tsp of fish sauce, mince ginger and red chili pepper and set aside.
For the pickle onion:
Combine 6 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, 2 tbsp of vinegar, 1/4 cup of water and thinly sliced onion. Mix well and set aside.
|Bean sprouts and herbs|
|Rau ram from my garden|
In a large stock pot, add enough water for 8 bowls and the whole cleaned chicken. Cook at high heat until boil (about 10-15 minutes), skim off the dirty foam on top and turn down the heat to medium. Add to the broth the charred ginger and onion, season with salt, rock sugar, bot nem and simmer for 30 min. Remove the chicken from the pot and dunk it into a cold tub of water. In the meantime, roast the mixed spices in the small oven toaster until fragrant but not burned. Then add the spice mixture in a cheese cloth or a tea-infuser ball, secure tightly and sink it into the chicken broth. Shred the chicken meat and reserve the bone, then add the bone back to the soup broth for extra flavor. Continue simmer the broth until ready to serve.
While letting the broth simmers, you can prepare the rest the ingredients. To make the salad, combine some the shredded chicken with the pickled onion, chopped "rau ram", and fried shallot, drizzled with the ginger fish sauce.
To serve, add the soften rice noodle in the bowl, top with shredded chicken. Pour over the hot broth and garnish with some chopped scallion and cilantro, crack some peppercorns on top. Serve with bean sprout, herbs, lime juice, hoisin and Sriracha. Enjoy with chicken salad on the side and extra ginger fish sauce for dipping if desired.