For the uninitiated, this is a great entry-level pho. Pho ga (chicken pho) has a delicate and light-tasting broth that contrasts wonderfully with the bold-tasting flavours of the accompaniments.
- 2 kg (4 lb 6 oz) fresh pho noodles (see Note)
- 1 brown onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch spring onions (scallion), thinly sliced
- 1 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves picked
- 3 kg (6 lb 10 oz) chicken bones
- 1 old hen or stewing bird (optional)
- 200 g (7 oz) piece of ginger, unpeeled
- 2 large brown onions, unpeeled
- 1 garlic bulb, unpeeled, halved
- 1 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) free-range chicken
- 6 star anise
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 1 small stick cassia bark
- 50 g (1 ¾ oz) coriander seeds
- 3 tbsp sea salt
- 200 ml (7 fl oz) fish sauce
- 50 g (1 ¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) bean sprouts
- 2 bunches Thai basil
- 6 bird’s eye chillies, sliced
- 3 lemons, cut into wedges
- sriracha chilli sauce
- hoi sin sauce
- fish sauce
- 6 lemongrass stalks, white part only, sliced
- 15 long red chillies, sliced
- 6 bird's eye chillies, sliced
- 3 brown onions, chopped
- 12 garlic cloves
- 1.5 litres (1.5 qts) vegetable oil
- 150 ml (5 fl oz) fish sauce
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. To make the broth, rinse the chicken bones to remove any blood and splinters, then transfer to a 10 litre (21/2 gallon) stockpot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the bones, then place over high heat and bring to the boil. Boil the bones for 20–30 minutes, until no more blood comes to the surface. Drain and discard the cooking liquid, and rinse any remaining blood or impurities from the bones. Return the bones to a clean stockpot and add the old hen (if using). Cover with water to nearly the top of the pot and bring back to the boil.
2. Meanwhile, roast the ginger, onion and garlic over a gas stovetop or barbecue flame, or under the grill (broiler) until the skins are blistered and aromatic. Rinse off any burnt bits and add, whole, to the broth, along with the whole chicken. Poach the chicken for 15–20 minutes until cooked through, then remove from the broth and set aside to cool.
3. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and return the bones to the broth. Tear the chicken meat into smaller pieces and set aside.
4. Toast the star anise, cardamom pods, cassia bark and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Tie the spices in a square of muslin (cheesecloth) and drop it into the broth. Continue to gently simmer the broth over medium heat for a further 4–5 hours until the broth has reduced by 20–30 per cent.
5. To make the lemongrass sate, in a food processor, individually blitz the lemongrass, long chillies, bird's eye chillies, onion and garlic. Place the blitzed onion in a square of muslin and squeeze out and discard and excess liquid. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat to 80°C (175°F) on a kitchen thermometer. Stirring regularly throughout the whole process to avoid burning, empty the onion from the muslin into the oil and cook for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, then add both the chillies and cook for 20–30 minutes. Finally, add the lemongrass and fish sauce and cook for 20 minutes or until the sate is a rich red colour. Set aside to cool completely, then spoon into a sterilised jar and seal. The sate will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.
6. When the stock is ready, remove and discard the bones, old hen and spices. Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Season the stock with the salt, fish sauce and sugar. Return to a low heat and simmer until ready to serve.
7. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch individual portions (see Note) of the pho noodles (about 120 g–150 g/4 oz–5½ oz per person) for 10 seconds, then transfer to large noodle bowls. Evenly divide the chicken among the bowls, pour over the hot stock and top with the onion, spring onion and coriander.
8. Place the accompaniments on a serving platter and place in the centre of the table. Serve the pho and invite guests to season and flavour their own dish.
• Fresh pho noodles can be purchased from most Asian supermarkets. If you are unable to find them, you can also use dried thin rice stick noodles (sometimes referred to as pad thai noodles). Cook according to the packet instructions, then drain and divide among noodle bowls.
• It’s best to use an Asian noodle-blanching basket to cook the noodles. These can be purchased from Asian kitchen supply stores or online.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99