If you’re a follower of the blog, you know we’re a bunch of Phonatics. I’m pretty sure I could eat pho all day, every day from November through March. What on earth was I eating all of those years that I didn’t have pho in my life?
I can’t tell you how much money I’ve dropped on that delicious dish all over town. I tried to find a recipe online, but everything I found involved giant beef bones and hours of meticulous attention. After much begging, some coworkers and I convinced a Vietnamese coworker to make pho for the office one day using his wife’s recipe. He brought the ingredients; we brought the cash. Several of us hovered around him, anxious to learn the secret to making our favorite soup from scratch, taking detailed notes as he went. It seems intimidating at first, but I have successfully recreated their recipe about a dozen times now and added in a couple of my own tweaks to fit my needs. Everything you need can be found at the Hong Kong Market in Gretna, but there are other Asian markets around town that will sell equivalents to the rare stuff that you can’t find at Rouses.
Trinh Family Pho Ga, adapted.
One whole chicken, bag of giblets removed
Two yellow onions, peeled
One hunk of fresh ginger, tips cut off
One small chunk of rock sugar or 3 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
Spice pouch kit (pictured to the right, found at Hong Kong Market)
Three tbsp fish sauce
2-3 thinly sliced chicken breasts
Giant Gumbo Pot
Small omelet pan.
Optional: dash of dried lemongrass and garlic salt
Flat Rice Noodles
Thinly sliced purple or white onion
Sriracha (Rooster) Sauce
Fill a giant gumbo pot 2/3 of the way with water. Add the whole onions and ginger, and turn the heat up to high. Add the sugar, salt, and fish sauce.
While the water is heating, cut the breast meat off of the chicken and set aside. Next, cut slits in the chicken wings and legs near the middle. This is the hardest part: using a large knife, break at least two of the bones so the marrow is exposed. Add the whole chicken to the pot and bring to a rolling boil.
Heat a small pan on the stove. Remove the spices and the cloth bag from the spice packet package. Take the cinnamon and stick pieces out and set them to the side. Toast the remaining spices in the pan until fragrant. Remove them, and add them and the sticks to the cloth spice bag. Tie it shut and toss into the big pot.
As the water begins to boil, the chicken will start to give off some white floating bits. Skim them off. This is very important. (Don’t ask me why, I just followed directions.) Do so until you don’t see any more coming up to the top. Cover and let boil for another 20 minutes or so.
While the broth is boiling, rinse and cut the cilantro, basil, onions, and limes.
Bring a medium pot of water to boil for the noodles, but don’t add them in just yet.
Once the whole chicken is cooked and it appears to be close to falling apart, remove it and set aside (or throw away if you don’t have any other recipes you want to use it for.) At this point I usually do a full strain of the entire pot of broth. After I strain it, I remove the ginger and onion, but I leave the spice pack in the broth. Add in the sliced chicken breast and return the pot to a rolling boil to cook the chicken pieces. If I’m cooking for a large amount of people, I will cheat here and add in four cups of canned chicken broth.
Once the chicken breasts are cooked, turn the fire down. Remove the spice packet and throw away.
Take a handful of rice noodles and add them to the pot of plain boiling water. Swirl them around a few times until they’re limp–almost but not quite cooked. Remove them and add them to a bowl. Then spoon the broth and chicken onto the noodles to cook them the rest of the way.
Garnish your bowl as desired.
Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.
The broth and chicken freeze very well – just defrost and add in fresh noodles and garnish.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll impress your pho loving friends and be pretty impressed with yourself, too!