- February 2015
- Serves 6
- Hands-on time 1 hour, oven time 40 min, simmering time 1¾ hours, plus overnight cooling
Pho is a Vietnamese soup recipe made with broth, herbs and meat – in this case – chicken.
- 1.8g (0.4g saturated)
- 79.9g (1g sugars)
- 1.2kg whole British free-range chicken
- 30g piece fresh ginger
- 30g round shallots (skin on)
- 5cm cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 2 black cardamom pods (see Know-how)
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra if needed
- 600g ho fun noodles (flat rice noodles)
- Fresh coriander, mint and Thai (or regular) basil
- Beansprouts (optional)
- Fresh chillies, finely sliced
- Lime wedges
- Chilli sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce (optional)
- Put the chicken in a large flameproof pot and pour over cold water to cover by 4cm (you’ll need around 5 litres). Gently bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Move the pot to a cold place to cool to room temperature (see tips, right; this will take several hours or overnight – see Bobby’s tips, or follow the timesaver tip). Return the pot to the heat, bring the stock back to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes (A). Set aside again in a cold place to cool to room temperature.
- Lift the chicken onto a board (set the stock and pan aside). Peel off and discard the skin, joint the chicken (it should pull apart easily), then shred the meat. Chop or break the bones into pieces (B).
- Return the chicken bone pieces to the stock (C) and gently simmer over a medium heat for about 1 hour until slightly thickened. Skim the surface every so often to remove any scum.
- Meanwhile, heat the grill to high. Put the whole, unpeeled ginger and shallots on a baking sheet and grill for 40-50 minutes, turning occasionally, until blackened. Cool for a minute or so, peel (D), then smash the softened ginger and shallots slightly. Add to the stock.
- In a dry pan, toast the cinnamon, star anise and cardamom over a medium heat until fragrant. Add to the stock, then season to taste with 1-2 tbsp fish sauce (see Bobby’s tips for success). Simmer for another hour; you should end up with about 3 litres of stock.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the pack instructions. Drain, then rinse off the starch with warm water from the tap.
- Taste the broth and add more fish sauce if necessary. Strain.
- To serve pho the traditional way, bring a pan of water to the boil. Divide the noodles among large soup bowls, then pour over the hot water and leave for a few seconds (this reheats the noodles and warms the bowls; E). Drain, then ladle over the broth. Top with some herbs, shredded chicken (F), beansprouts and chillies. Serve with lime wedges and, if you like, chilli, soy and fish sauces for people to help themselves.
Recipe from Bobby Chin, head chef at House of Ho.
It’s worth buying the best chicken you can find – you’ll be rewarded with a fragrant, flavourful stock.
If you don’t want to hang around waiting for the stock to heat and cool down, or don’t have a cold place for it to cool safely, use this method instead: poach a chicken in 2 litres good quality fresh chicken stock topped up with 2 litres water for 40 minutes. Strip the carcass, then continue the recipe from step 4.
Make the broth up to 3 days ahead and chill, or freeze for up to 3 months with the shredded chicken in it. Defrost and reheat. Cook the noodles and garnish to serve.
Pho (pronounced fuh) is one of Vietnam’s best dishes, eaten by street sweepers and businessmen. The origin of the name is foggy, but one theory is that it derives from the time the country was under French rule, when the Vietnamese were introduced to pot-au-feu (a French beef stew). Beef pho (pho bo) is the classic version, but chicken pho (pho ga) is popular too.
Black cardamom (not to be confused with the more readily available green cardamom) has an intense, almost smoky aroma and taste. It’s available from Waitrose, Ocado, Asian grocers and online.
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