Saturday, October 17, 2009

Vietnamese Chicken Pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

Oh no, I'm late for the challenge....AGAIN. And to make things worse, I only got to complete half of October challenge :( I really wanted to make the dessert wontons but I just didn't have time to get wrappers from the Asian grocery store which is a bit far from my dorm. On top of that, we've got a lot of clinical rotations this school year... which means i have finals EVERY Friday. Seriously... forget Mondays, Thursdays are the real beeches of the week! Gahhh, I hope they don't kick me out of the Daring kitchen with this half-ass post... I tried :'( But despite my tardy post, I really enjoyed making/eating this month's challenge! The recipe was straight-forward and simple... and there's nothing I love more than noodle soups! JLo especially loved it cuz 1) it reminded him of the vietnamese food he used to have in the states and 2) cuz there were chicken breasts! LOL, JLo got me so sick of them since that's all he would eat for his work-out diet. This was the first time in MONTHS since I had chicken breasts in my fridge... but the soup still turned out delicious even for a hater like me. Can't wait for next month's challenge, yayyy!

I posted up the simplified Chicken Pho recipe below but used Jaden's original Chicken Pho recipe which can be found on her website.

Vietnamese Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)
  • For the Chicken Pho Broth:
  • 2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
  • 1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
  • ½ onion
  • 1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
  • 1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
  • 1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

  • 1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)

  • Accompaniments:
  • 2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off (couldn't find bean sprouts at the grocery store so I went with spinach instead)
  • Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
  • ½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
  • ½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
  1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning [picture 2].
  2. In a large pot, add all the chicken broth ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil [picture 4].
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers [picture 6], discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids [picture 5].
  6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package [picture 7].
  7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table [picture 8]. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
Vietnamese Chicken Pho


  1. Your pho looks fantastic! Good luck on your finals (all of them)!

  2. someone's been secretly cooking!! ok maybe not secretly bcuz I dont live on 2nd floor but that pho looks delicious!! I'm so going to try making it sometime!!!

  3. Great job! Your pho looks so satisfying! Glad it helped you reconcile with chicken breasts... Good luck with your finals!

  4. this looks wonderful, and just perfect for the chilly weather! I don't know what the weather is like in Poland, but it's been -2C and rainy here in NYC :(

    I like how the different components of your dishes are always arranged so neatly. Aesthetics are appealing! :)

  5. Your pho looks totally delicious! It fits any season cause I could just have it anytime provided I could spare 2 hours for making the broth :-)


  6. hi angelica
    what do u mean by 4 whole cloves in the ingredients? is it garlic?

  7. @Aisha: Cloves is a spice shaped tiny rods, commonly used in Indian food. check it out here: !

  8. great job with the pho! i was late this month too - all the best people were ;)

  9. was just skimming though here and really liked your blog until i bumped into this post... and couldn't walk idly past this since vietnamese food is my ideology -_-

    well, you are excused since it is almost impossible to find a really good phở recipe online.

    just few tips:
    - always char an onion over FIRE(coal) for the broth (can't stress this enough, only use oven if desperate).
    - add chopped spring onions to accompaniment (btw where did you get the idea of substituting spinach for bean sprouts? 0_o)
    - i hope it is just a faulty picture, but lime wedges are for juice only. not to put them in the bowl :P
    - get rid of red onions (in some regions ppl like regular onions in vinegar on the side though)
    - throw hoisin sauce away, it is a stupid asian-american invention to add it into phở

    the rest looks ok.
    btw having phở with some chicken guts makes it even better:)

    hope you have more fun with phở

  10. @Bitos: thanks bitos for stopping by! This was actually a Daring Cooks' challenge recipe that we were to make for October 2009. I've never really had Pho before so i just followed the recipe and did the best i could. I had to make a few changes with the spinach since there were no bean sprouts at the supermarket, LOL. I'm sure the more authentic Pho you're talking about must taste delicious. I gotta try it someday!