It finally hit me yesterday that it is cold. I woke up and could feel it seeping into my bones. I actually laid in bed for a good hour just trying to stay warm. Finally I got up and decided that a hot shower would perk me up. Unfortunately the water did not heat up until I was nearly finished so I was left feeling grumpy, wet and cold. What I needed was a pick me up.
Chicken noodle soup in any form is a great pick me up. When you are feeling under the weather or just in a bad mood chances are it will make you feel better. I also really wanted something with rice noodles so decided to make from scratch Pho Ga which is the Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup.
Let me tell you one thing this recipe is not for the impatient or something you can just let cook while you attend to other things. You have to keep an eye on it at all times.
What makes a great pho is the broth as that is where most of the flavour is contained. A mix of spices and meat are simmered for several hours in a pot of water and the cook must constantly remove any foam from the top to ensure it stays clear. Whilst cooking the broth my kitchen smelled amazing. It reminded me of Christmas and comfort, of being looked after when I was sick as a child and of enjoying a great meal after a long hard day.
I made plenty of broth which I will freeze to use for more pho dishes. You could also swap out the chicken for beef, as the spices remain the same regardless of meat choices. For a vegetarian version I recommend swapping the meat out with shiitake mushrooms and carrots for flavour and use soy sauce instead of fish sauce.
Pho is a dish that can’t be beat and as there are plenty of ways to dress it up you can never get sick or bored of it. For another noodle soup check out my Thai Noodle Soup.
- 6 Cups water
- 2 Chicken breasts with or without bone
- 1 Pack rice noodles
- 5 Star anise
- 1 Tsp coriander seeds
- 1 Tsp fennel seeds
- 2 Sticks cinnamon, preferably Saigon
- 5 Black cardamon pods
- 1 Tsp cloves
- 1 Onion
- 3 Thumb length thin slice of ginger
- 2 Shallots
- 1 Tsp Fish sauce
- 1 Lump rock sugar or 1 tbsp brown sugar
- Fresh Thai basil
- Fresh mint
- Mushrooms, diced thinly
- Bell peppers, sliced thinly
- Bean sprouts
- Spring onions, diced
- Chili peppers, sliced
- Roasted crushed peanuts
- Limes, quartered
- Hoisin sauce
- Sriracha sauce
- Garlic chili sauce
- Sesame oil
- Roast the ginger, shallots and onion for approximately 5 minutes on an open flame, or under a broiler until you they are browned. If any parts are more black and burnt remove before using.
- In a dry pan roast the spices on medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Bring water to boil and add the chicken, roasted shallots, onion and ginger. Place the roasted spices into a cheesecloth or enclosed strainer and lay at the bottom of the pot. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour, skimming any foam from the top.
- Once an hour has passed remove the chicken to a bowl of ice cold water to chill.
- Once chicken is chilled, shred into smaller pieces. If you use chicken breast with bone in remove all meat from bones and add the bones back into the broth.
- Add the fish sauce and sugar to the broth and leave to simmer for a further hour.
- Remove all ingredients from broth and carefully strain the broth to ensure a clear liquid. Return to stovetop and bring to a boil.
- Soak the pho noodles in lukewarm water for 20 minutes then drain and pour boiling water over them and soak until pliable, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse well. Divide the noodles among serving bowls.
- To serving bowls addd a small handful of bean sprouts, bell peppers, mushrooms, and shredded chicken.
- Pour the broth over the noodles and add spring onions, peanuts, chillies and fresh herbs on top.
- Add a ¼ of lime to the side and serve immediately along with a choice of hoisin, garlic chilli or Sriracha sauce. I also like a bit of sesame oil.