Pho is one of my favorite international dishes. It’s savory, customizable, and downright delicious. Up until recently, I had never really considered replicating this in my own kitchen. Then I ran across Cooking Light’s Quick Chicken Pho and thought, “now this is something I can do!” I was delighted to discover that creating a basic chicken pho is much more doable than I thought. The secret, as most others have noted, is creating a really good broth. In this particular recipe, toasting spices and searing ginger and scallions really ups the flavor profile.
Prep Time: 45 min | Cook Time: 45 min | Serves: 4
- 2 (3/4″) sections of peeled ginger
- 4 medium/large green onions
- 1 small bunch of cilantro sprigs (1/3-1/2 of your typical store bunch)
- 3 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise (you can find these, and the other two spices, at Publix and similar grocery stores)
- 7 cups good chicken stock (I like Swanson’s Organic chicken stock as my base. Or use homemade if you have any in the freezer.)
- 3+ cups of water
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 package dried flat rice noodles (such as pad Thai)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tsp organic sugar
- Fresh basil leaves
- Fresh mint leaves
- mung bean sprouts
- sliced red Fresno Chili
- lime wedges
- fried shallots
Slice the ginger crosswise into thin coins and smack with the flat side of a knife. Set aside. Cut the hollow green parts of the green onion into thin rounds. Set aside. Cut the leftover white sections into pinkie-finger lengths, bruise with the flat side of a knife, and set aside with the ginger.
Coarsely chop the leafy tops of the cilantro to yield a few tablespoons and set aside as a topping. Reserve the remaining cilantro sprigs.
Heat a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise. Stirring often, toast 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the ginger and pinkie-length green onion pieces. Stir 30 seconds or until fragrant. Slide the pot off heat and let cool for about 15 seconds, then pour in the stock. Return the pot to the heat and add 3 cups of water, the cilantro sprigs, and the chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
While the broth simmers, soak the rice noodles in hot water until pliable or opaque (or, if using a different type of noodle, follow package instructions). Drain, rinse, and set aside.
After 5-10 minutes of simmering, the chicken should be firm and cooked through (it will yield slightly when pressed). Carefully transfer the chicken to a bowl and flush with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, then shred or cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside and cover loosely to prevent drying.
Once the broth is done, pour it through a fine mesh strainer over a large pot or bowl. (Line the strainer with muslin for a very clear broth). Discard the solids. You may wish to adjust the flavor by adding additional water, fish sauce, and/or sugar at this point.
Bring the strained broth back to a boil, then dunk the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve for 5-60 seconds to soften them. Lift the noodles from the pot and divide into 4 large bowls. Lower the heat to keep the broth hot while you arrange the chicken on top of the noodles. Ladle an equal portion of broth into each bowl, then serve alongside a plethora of toppings so guests can customize their own bowl.