Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup)





Intro:


Pho Ga is a staple Vietnamese dish that oozes flavour and freshness. The beautiful thing about this noodle soup is not only its incredible aroma and flavour but it is extremely nutritious and perfectly balanced. The secret behind a great bowl of pho ga is a clear aromatic broth and a ton of fresh herbs to carry the noodle soup. This recipe is made the classic way, as it should be as pho ga is a timeless classic. Let's get straight into it!


Cook Time 2hrs 30mins / Prep Time 45-60 mins


To serve 4-5


Ingredients:


Pho Ga broth:


1 whole free range chicken

2 white onions

5 shallots

50g ginger

1 cinnamon stick

5 star anise

1 tbsp coriander seed

1 tbsp fennel seed

1/4 nutmeg

3 litres water

2 kafir lime leaves

2-3 tbsp fish sauce

2-3 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp rock sugar


Herbs and Noodles:


400g rice noodles

1 bunch Thai basil

5-6 spring onions

1/2 bunch coriander stalks

1/2 white onion

4-5 birdseye chillies

2 kafir lime leaves

2 limes

4 small shallots (fried shallots)

100ml cooking oil (fried shallots)


Method:


Broth:



  1. Before we begin to make the broth we want to allow the noodles to soak prior to cooking. Add 400g of dried pho rice noodles to a pot of cold water and allow to soak until ready to cook towards the very end. Now onto the broth, like most clear broths we want to start by pre boiling the chicken to remove any impurities and to clean. Add 1 whole free range chicken to a large pot of boiling water and boil for 10-15 minutes until scum rises to the top of the water. When ready carefully remove the chicken from the pot and rinse under cold running water to clean then set to one side for now.





2. Now onto the spices, this step is especially important as it can make or break the broth, therefore, I always try and take my time with this step. Over a naked flame or dry pan add 2 whole unpeeled white onions and 50g of unpeeled ginger and toast or char until completely charred. Set to one side when ready then peel off the charred parts and set to one side. Next in a small dry pan add 5 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tbsp of coriander seed, 1 tbsp of fennel seeds and 1/4 of a nutmeg. Toast in the dry pan for 3-4 minutes until nice and fragrant. When ready add to a small tea strainer or empty tea bag and seal. Finally peel 5 small shallots and keep these separate for now as we will add these at the very end for some freshness. When ready all the spices are good to go and we can now start to cook the broth.






3. In a fresh large pot fill with water (3 litres if possible) then add the cleaned chicken, the charred onion and ginger and the small strainer of toasted spices. Bring the broth up to the boil on a high heat then when boiling remove any extra impurities if there are any. Next turn the heat down to medium and simmer the broth for 1 1/2 hours without a lid on. Take care that the broth never really comes up to a boil as this can create a cloudy broth.



Herbs:



4. Whilst we wait on the broth to cook we can swiftly move onto preparing the herbs to finish the broth. Traditionally the herbs I used in this recipe are quite common to use for pho ga in Vietnam. Before we move onto the herbs, to add a little crisp and aroma to the broth finely slice 4 small shallots then add to a small saucepan with approximately 100ml of cooking oil. Place onto a high heat and fry the shallots for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. When cooked carefully drain from the oil and drain onto kitchen paper then season lightly with a touch of salt and sugar. Start by washing a bunch of Thai basil and remove some of the larger stems. Finely slice 1/2 bunch of coriander stalks, and slice 5-6 spring onions. Roll 2 or 3 kafir lime leaves then slice into a fine shifanade. Cut a few limes into wedges, finely slice a few Birdseye chillies and lastly, finely slice 1/2 white onion. Place the sliced white onion into a small container of cold water as this will remove the strong onion aroma. Place all of the toppings separately and the herbs are ready.





Back to the broth:



5. Now back to the broth, after 1 1/2 hours of simmering the chicken should be ready and have a deep chicken aroma. You don't want to boil the chicken much longer than this as when shredded it can become quite mushy. Carefully remove the chicken and allow to briefly cool to one side. Top the broth up slightly with additional water and continue to simmer away. For the chicken when slightly cooled, start by removing the legs, wings then use a knife to cut away the breasts. Using two forks we now want to begin to roughly shred each part of the chicken whilst still warm. Take your time to try and shred every bit of meat from the chicken then when shredded dispose of the bones and carcass and place the chicken into a bowl.






Season the broth: