Phở Gà Recipe – Chicken Pho

March 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

I started making this pho last year when I saw a recipe for it posted on Smitten Kitchen. Chicken pho, I thought? I loved pho, but I had never ordered or even thought to order chicken pho, as my go-to was always beef. But, I had a disastrous experience trying to make beef pho a few years ago so I thought I would try my hand at this new chicken version. I AM SO GLAD I DID. This is probably one of the easiest, most delicious recipes you can introduce into your rotation (just a little time-consuming). But the broth freezes incredibly well, so you can make a huge pot of broth and enjoy it whenever you’d like.

I made my first attempt following Smitten Kitchen’s recipe to the T, and it was fabulous. And with every attempt, I’ve modified it so that it suits our taste buds and I think we’ve nailed it with this recipe.

1. I was very unsure about the quantity/selection of herbs and spices to use but the combination I found below is by far the most well-rounded and subtle mix.

2. I was alarmed by how much fish sauce I ended up using to season the broth, but don’t be as scared as I was. The broth should always taste slightly more salty than you would normally enjoy on it’s own, as after the addition of noodles, the flavor gets diluted quickly.

3. For the toppings, do whatever makes you happy. We usually use bean sprouts (my husband hates mung bean sprouts so we use soybean sprouts), basil (we actually love sweet basil instead of the Thai basil in this for some reason), fried shallots (we buy in big jars from the Asian grocery store), green onion, lime, and chilis.

4. You must use banh pho noodles. They have a very specific kind at the grocery store for pho, and you must use this. We personally like the very thin pho noodles (reminds us of ramen, maybe?) so we usually get the thinnest banh pho at the store.

5. We had an interesting experience where I realized that the “chickens” we bought from the Asian grocery store were actually roosters…with their heads and feet still intact. O_O I was too chicken (haha!) to use the heads but I did leave the feet in the stock as there is a ton of collagen and flavor in the feet so I am glad I did. But if anyone knows if it’s okay to use chicken heads in broth, please let me know.

6. This is completely optional, so if you can’t find it, no sweat! I found this “flavor enhancer” for pho ga at the grocery store (just MSG) that gave the broth another turbo boost of flavor, not that it needs it, but if you find it, use it!

(Apologies for the iPhone photos, I had some technical difficulty with my camera.)

Phở Gà

makes enough for 8 quarts of broth

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 large onions, quartered and outer papery layer removed
4 2-inch pieces of ginger, smashed
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 whole 4-5 lb chickens (or in our case, roosters)
2-3 lbs chicken wings/bones
10 quarts water
2 cinnamon sticks
10-12 cloves
20-24 black peppercorns
1 black cardamom pod
1/4 tsp star anise powder
1 tbsp sea salt (more to taste)
1/2 palm sugar chunk (around 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 cup fish sauce (more to taste, if needed)
4 green onions, white and greens removed (greens chopped thinly for garnish and whites left in tact)
banh pho noodles

fried shallots
chilis, sliced thinly (jalapeno, serrano, Thai bird chilis)
bean sprouts (soy or mung bean)
Basil leaves
lime wedges
green onion (green onion from above)
hoisin sauce

1. Preheat oven to 425. Coat onions and ginger with the oil in a bowl and spread onto a foil-lined or silpat baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until they are browned and charred.

2. Fill a heavy-bottomed stock pot with water and bring up to a boil and add the chicken. Boil for 5 minutes, and then very carefully drain and discard the water. Wash the pot with soap and water. Rinse chicken in cold water and return back to the pot, add 10 quarts of water and bring to a bring on high heat. Add charred onions and ginger. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for one hour. Every 10 minutes, skim the fat and scum.

3. After an hour, add spices: cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, black cardamom pod, star anise powder, salt, and palm sugar. Continue to simmer for at least 2-3 hours.

4. Remove the chicken and bones after 3 hours. They will fall apart as you take it out of the soup but try to get all the pieces. Set aside in a large bowl until cool enough to handle. Once cool, pick all the meat off in large pieces into a separate bowl and cover until needed.

5. Very carefully (this is a 2-person job), strain the broth into an 8-quart stock pot. The broth should have no chunks or pieces left and very clear.

6. Add the fish sauce and white parts of the green onion and return to a boil. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary and reduce heat to a simmer. After 10 minutes, remove the green onion.

7. Boil water and prepare banh pho according to package instructions. Drain, and serve immediately.


8. Heat up large soup bowls by putting some boiling water in them and letting them sit for a minute. This will help keep your pho hot. Discard the water.

9. On a large plate, place all the garnishes separately. In two small sauce bowls, add sriracha and hoisin. Set on the table so that people can pick and choose what they’d like in their individual bowls.

10. Add prepared noodles to hot bowls. Add reserved chicken pieces per bowl. Ladle broth into the bowl until it covers the noodles completely. Serve immediately, directing guests to add whatever toppings they would like.

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