Second in popularity to Phở Bò (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) is Phở Gà. If you live in Southern California, you might have heard of or dined at Phở shops that make only the chicken version. Perhaps not as rich or unctuous as the beef or oxtail versions, Phở Gà still has all the depth and flavor that comes from combination of natural meat stock, ginger, shallot, and spices like star anise, Vietnamese cassia cinnamon, cloves, and coriander seed. The use of preserved or salted lemon here (as called for in the original recipe) is new for me but it added a fragrant, slightly salty-savory accent. I also used fresh Phở noodles, rather than the dried ones, made by Sincere Orient Food Co. — (it has a photo of the beef noodle soup on the front). I’m sure there are other great brands for fresh Phở noodles but this is the best one I’ve found here in Michigan. At Asian markets like Hua Xing Market in Ypsilanti, you can find it in the refrigerated aisle. Unlike the dried noodles, these do not require pre-soaking in water before cooking.
Phở would not be right without the requisite herbs and garnishes of Thai basil, culantro, bean sprouts, chilies and fresh lime wedges. With the cold snap we’ve had here, a hot, steamy bowl of Phở Gà is more than a welcome treat.
PHỞ GÀ – VIETNAMESE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
adapted from Quick and Easy Vietnamese Home Cooking for Everyone
INGREDIENTS: (4 servings)
- 16 oz. (454g) pkg. fresh Phở noodles (bánh phở tươi)
- 3 quarts of Phở Gà broth:
- 1 whole chicken (approx. 3.5lbs/1.5 kg)
- 2 lbs. (1kg) chicken neck/back bones
- 1/4 cup (60mL) Vietnamese fish sauce (nước mắm)
- 2 Tbl. (25g) sugar (or 1 small/medium piece of rock sugar)
- 1 tsp. (5 g) salt
- 1 stalk of celery
- 10 whole cloves (đinh hương)
- 5 whole star anise (hoa hồi)
- 2 small pieces of Vietnamese cassia (cinnamon) bark(vỏ cây quế)
- 10 coriander seeds (hột ngò)
- 1 preserved (salted) lemon
- 4 shallots and a 2-3inch(5-8cm) piece of fresh ginger, both broiled in the oven until slightly charred on the outside.
- Herb and vegetable garnish:
- cilantro (rau ngò)
- thai basil (rau quế)
- culantro aka sawtooth herb (rau ngò gai)
- bean sprouts
- fresh lime wedges
- thai “bird” chilies or Sriracha chili sauce
Prepare the Phở Gà broth about 2-3 hours before serving time. Cover and tie the spices with cheesecloth and add along with the rest of the ingredients for the broth into a stockpot and cover with approximately 4 quarts (~4L) of cold water. With the heat on medium, bring to a boil, skimming any scum that forms at the top. Once it comes to a boil, adjust the heat to low and simmer (covered) for approximately 1 hour. At this point, test the chicken for doneness [the internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C)] If done, carefully remove the whole chicken from the pot and transfer to a large plate/platter. Tent the chicken with foil. Continue simmering the stock (uncovered) for another 2 hours. Taste the broth and add more salt or sugar if needed.
At serving time, bring the stock to a vigorous boil. At the same time, bring another large pot of water to boil. Divide the noodles into 4 portions and using a mesh strainer, separately boil the noodle portions for approximately 1 minute each. The noodles should be cooked but still “al dente.” Give the noodles a quick “shake” to remove excess water and transfer the noodles to individual bowls.
Using your hands, shred the chicken into small pieces/strips. (Knife-cut chicken gives a less satisfactory mouthfeel for this dish.) Top the noodle-filled bowls with the chicken pieces and ladle the hot broth into each bowl. (You could strain the broth before ladling it into the bowls, but, due to laziness and impatience — I just avoid the bones and vegetables while scooping up the broth.) Serve the Phở Gà bowls with a plate of herb and vegetable garnish and let guests help themselves to whatever combination and quantity they like. Slurping is highly encouraged.
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