19 6 / 2012
Pho Ga, or Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, is one of my all time favorite meals. In college, I worked at a Vietnamese restaurant in Los Angeles that had some of the best pho I’ve ever eaten. With clean, flavorful and refreshing broth, light rice noodles and an array of mix-ins that include basil, bean sprouts, lime, onion, fried shallots and cilantro, pho is a really healthy and refreshing meal. You also get to say pho (pronounces Fuh) as much as you want. There is no pho police. Some people also say pho is hydrating which is perhaps why I observed so many people slurping it down on 100+ degree summer days in Los Angeles.
Josh, my housemate (Josh’s edit: and best friend), also shares my excitement about pho. Can’t you tell by his face and rapid blurry hand movements? Josh and I went to his native Kentucky this past week for his brother’s wedding and got to visit lots of friends and family (and one bourbon distillery).
It was such a beautiful and special adventure and I got to spend a lot of it playing silly games with toddlers, staying up late to visit with new friends, and enjoying live country music in a raucous bar. An unfortunate side effect of all of this fun, apparently, is coming down with a gross flu. I’ve been a hacking mess since we got back and a delicious bowl a pho is exactly what I wanted.
For those of you daunted by making homemade pho broth from scratch, you can use Pacific Organic Soup Starters. Disclaimer: there is no gluten-free label on this broth so Celiacs should probably steer clear for the time being. I’ve yet to make the endeavor into pho stock-making myself and clearly remember giant cauldron-like pots of chicken parts, anise, and five spice stewing for hours in the restaurant that I used to work in. Mark my words, some day I will tackle this whole process from scratch but not under the fog of a flu bug.
The best part about eating pho is deciding what you’re going to mix in. It’s like a choose-your-own-soup-adventure. Any time you order pho in a restaurant you will get a big plate of bean sprouts, jalapeños, basil, and limes. It’s accompanied by Sriracha and hoisin sauce which can make your soup spicier and/or sweeter. This is the ultimate customizable dish that’s a fun one to make if you’re having a lot of people over for dinner and want to give them some options.
Chicken Pho or Pho Ga
2 boxes of Pacific Organic Chicken Pho base or 8 cups Vietnamese chicken stock
3 chicken breasts, sliced to 1/4 inch thickness
2 handfuls dried rice noodles (I used linguini-style noodles)
Half of one white onion, very thinly sliced
One bunch green onions, sliced
3 cups bean sprouts
2 limes, sliced into wedges
1 jalapeño, sliced
Gluten-free hoisin sauce
Bring a pot of water to boil, add in rice noodles and remove from heat. Let sit for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until noodles are cooked al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Divide the noodles into the bottom of large bowls.
There are two ways to cook the chicken. Either sautee the chicken in oil until almost fully cooked and then add to boiling broth, or heat the broth to a rolling boil and pour over chicken and noodles already placed in bowls to thoroughly cook. The latter is the traditional way that pho is served but not for the folks worried about properly cooking their meat. Add a bit of sliced white and green onions to each bowl.
Arrange the bean sprouts, lime, cilantro, jalapeños, and basil on a plate. Serve your pho hot and with large soup spoons, chopsticks or forks.