Phở Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup


Pho Ga


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.


Pho Ga - Viet Rice Noodles



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.
    • water
  • 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


Pho Ga Ingredients



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.

Check out these other posts:

Phở Gà from WanderingChopsticks
Phở Gà from VietworldKitchen
A poem on Phở Gà from Geroi (Vietnamese text)


Bon appétit!


19 Responses to “Phở Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup”

  1. Wandering Chopsticks Says:

    I’ve never heard of using chanh muoi for pho ga. But knowing how much I love lemons, I think it would add a great nuance to the broth. I’ve still got two unopened jars of chanh muoi just sitting around too.

  2. Pierre Says:

    This looks so good, that I want Pho Ga for my breakfast now!

  3. Kittie Says:

    Mmmm – I love the Phở Bò – so this is definitely one to try!

  4. Chez US Says:

    Don’t wait to make this one … we did the Shaking Beef last nigh – YUM!

  5. mycookinghut Says:

    Love noodle soup.. anything with noodles and soup 🙂 The picture of spices is lovely!

  6. Susan from Food Blogga Says:

    I live in Southern California, but I’ve never eaten at Pho Bo. I guess I’ll rely on your recipe. Looks like I’m in good hands.

  7. Kevin Says:

    That soup looks so fresh and good! The broth sounds interesting with the cinnamon in it.

  8. Chuck Says:

    Mmmm… I would love a bowl of pho ga right now. We may have to go to our local pho shop for a bowl tonight!

  9. Jonathan Says:

    i’ve been wanting pho for a long time. we keep meaning to get some… our weather’s been crap recently so maybe it’s soup time again!

  10. Fearless Kitchen Says:

    This looks great. I love pho, I hadn’t seen a chicken pho recipe before. I also hadn’t realized that preserved lemons are also used in Vietnamese cooking – I’d only ever seen them in North African cuisine before. It looks like the perfect dish for the current weather situation in Boston – we’re also in the middle of a cold spell, and our furnace is broken to boot….

  11. White on Rice Says:

    We’ve got three huge jars of chanh muoi right now, we’ll have to try it in the broth!
    We make pho about about 3X a month and will never get tired of it! I totally agree with you about having all the garnishes. We went to this very “trendy and hip” Viet place in LA that served a $9 bowl of TINY pho, without any herbs and garnishes!!! Do you believe that? Not even a wedge of lime! We are so irritated and will never go back.

  12. Jen Yu Says:

    Pierre is so cute – pho for brekkie sounds like my kinda brekkie!! I think I’m in love with this dish! And thank you for laying out all of the spices because I’m a little spice-retarded… You know, there are days when I want to trade blogs with you. I mean – you can eat what I made on my blog and I get to eat what you made on your blog. Doesn’t that sound like a fun activity? 🙂 Doesn’t it? I already know the first 20 entries I want to eat 😉

  13. Jen Yu Says:

    Oh, and can I just say I’m happy to see you back. I was a little worried there and thought we’d all have to come to AA to find you!

  14. holybasil Says:

    WanderingChopsticks – Yeah, the chanh muối was a nice surprise. I think I’ll try it in other dishes too now, like in hủ tiếu, for example.

    Pierre – merci!

    Kittie – Thanks!

    Chezus – Thanks – your dish looks great too!

    Mycookinghut – I’m with ya – noodles are always good 😉

    Susan – Oh really? There’s quite a few good places in San Diego that you should try.

    Kevin – Thanks – and you know, star anise and cinnamon make Phở what it is (to me, anyway).

    Chuck – lucky you! But with that new stove top of yours, I’m thinking your own Phở is going to kick ass!

    Jonathan – Well, now I don’t feel so bad. 🙂

    FearlessKitchen – bummer about your furnace 😦 Vietnamese use a lot of preserved limes too. WanderingChopsticks has some great posts on preserved lemons as well as one for the drink (Soda Chanh Muối) that is very delicious and popular.

    WORC – I think you should burn that place down! I’m kidding. At least toilet paper the whole place 🙂

    Honestly, I’d go crazy in your yard. 5 types of citrus! By the way, have you tried salting/preserving your limes? Please let me know if you have, I’ve been wanting to try that too.

    Jen – Yes, let’s trade! Does that mean I’ll get to have the crispiest, buttery-est photos too? If so, I’m so down. 🙂

  15. Janna from Honeyed Hashette Says:

    We just moved back to Texas after living in San Jose, CA for 2 years. My good friend and I would go to this little family owned Vietnamese restaurant all the time and order the Vietnamese Soup. LOVE. It was so comforting on a cool or rainy day. I miss it. Thanks for posting this. I will just have to make my own.

  16. Tran Says:

    Hi, I am currently designing a website for a ThinkQuest competition for Upward Bound, a federal funded summer program. May I have your permission to use some of the images you have posted under this blog, specifically the bowl of pho and the image with the ingredients? My deadline for this project is July 16. It would be greatly appreciated if I could hear back from you as soon as possible. Thank you in advance!


  17. Tran Says:

    I’m sorry, I forgot to include my e-mail. It is:

    Hope to hear from you soon. =)

  18. Dieu Ly Says:

    Thanks for sharing

  19. Mike Says:

    My family eats the Pho Ga at least once a week where we live in Southern California. It is very good!

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