Good morning rain and household sneezes!
Looks like It’s time to make a BIG pot of wholesome Chicken Pho to keep us going.
The best thing about this dish is that it’s a one pot meal feeding the whole family. I like to make lots of this healthy broth which can last us a few days – The soup tastes better the longer you leave it!
2 yellow onions, about 1 pound total, unpeeled
Chubby 4-inch section fresh ginger, unpeeled
1 chicken (corn-fed or brolier works best) excess fat and tail removed
4-5 litres of hot water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted in a dry skillet for about 1 minute until fragrant
4 whole cloves
3 Star anaise
1 1/2–2 pounds small flat rice noodles (bánh phở), dried or fresh
Cooked chicken, at room temperature
1 yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained
3 or 4 spring onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander, leafy tops only
3 cups bean sprouts
10 to 12 sprigs mint (húng) 10 to 12 sprigs Thai basil* (húng quế)
12 to 15 fresh coriander* (ngò gai) leaves
2 or 3 Thai or birds eye chillies, thinly sliced
2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges
Make the pho broth
1. Place the onions and ginger directly on the cooking grate of a medium-hot charcoal or gas stove with a medium flame. Let the skin burn, using tongs to rotate onion and ginger occasionally.
After 15 minutes, the onions and ginger will have softened slightly and become sweetly fragrant. There may even be some bubbling. You do not have to blacken the entire surface. When amply charred, remove from the heat and let cool.
2. Rinse the cooled onions under warm running water, rubbing off the charred skin. Trim off and discard the blackened root and stem ends. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the ginger skin. Hold it under warm water to wash off any blackened bits. Halve the ginger lengthwise and bruise lightly with the broad side of a cleaver or chef’s knife. Set the onions and ginger aside.
3. Rinse the chicken under cool water. Remove and discard any loose pieces of fat from the chicken parts.
4. To achieve a clear broth, you must first parboil and rinse the chicken. Put chicken in a stockpot and add cold water just to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes to release the impurities. Put the chicken parts and water into the sink and then rinse the chicken with water to wash off any clinging residue. Quickly rinse the stockpot clean and return the chicken to the pot.
5. Pour in the water over the chicken and bring to a boil over high heat and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Use a ladle or shallow spoon to skim off any scum that rises to the top. Add the onions, ginger, salt, fish sauce, coriander seeds, cloves, star anise and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, adjusting the heat if needed to maintain a gentle simmer.
At this point, the chicken is cooked; its flesh should feel firm yet still yield a bit to the touch. Remove the chicken and transfer it to a large bowl. Set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, keep the broth at a steady simmer.
6. When chicken can be handled, use a knife to remove each breast half and the whole legs (thigh and drumstick). Don’t cut these pieces further, or they’ll lose their succulence. Set aside on a plate to cool completely.
7. Return the leftover carcass to the stockpot and adjust the heat to simmer the broth gently for another hour. Avoid a high temperature because the broth will turn cloudy.
8. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve positioned over a pot. Discard the solids. Use a ladle to skim as much fat from the top of the broth as you like. (To make this task easier, you can cool the broth, refrigerate overnight, lift off the solidified fat, and then reheat before continuing.) Taste and adjust the flavour with additional salt or fish sauce.
Assemble the pho bowls
9. If using dried noodles, cover them with hot water and let soak for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are pliable and opaque. Drain in a colander. If using fresh rice noodles, untangle them, place in a colander, and rinse briefly under cold running water.
10. Shred the cooked chicken into slices, cutting the meat off the bone as necessary. slice the yellow onion, spring onions, coriander, and pepper for adding to the bowls.
11. To ensure good timing, bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat as you are assembling the bowls. At the same time, fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil.
For each bowl, place a portion of the noodles on a vertical-handle strainer (or mesh sieve) and dunk the noodles in the boiling water. As soon as they have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10 to 20 seconds), pull the strainer from the water, letting the water drain back into the pot. Empty the noodles into a bowl.
12. Top each bowl of noodles with chicken, and then add some spring onions and coriander on top. Finish with a sprinkle of pepper.
13. Raise the heat and bring the broth to a boil. Do a final tasting and make any last-minute flavour adjustments. Ladle about 2 cups broth into each bowl, distributing the hot liquid evenly to warm all the ingredients. Serve immediately with the garnishes and a squeeze of lime.
14. Now Enjoy!