Yield: 5 to 6 bowls of soup
- For the soup:
- 3-4 pound organic free-range chicken with offal, and 2-3 pound of chicken bones
- 1 large onion peeled and cut in half
- 8 large cloves of garlic
- 65 grams of fresh ginger sliced in half lengthwise (about 3″ length)
- roots and stems of 1 bunch of cilantro
- 3 whole star anise
- 2″ x 1″ piece of cassia bark (a.k.a. Saigon Cinnamon)
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked white pepper
- 80 grams yellow rock sugar (light brown sugar also works)
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
- for serving:
- for 5-6 bowls of pho:
- 20 ounces dried pho noodles or fresh rice noodles
- 1/2 small onion, very thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- Chopped cilantro (about 1/2 cup), fresh lemon leaves, basil, bean sprouts
- 4 Serrano chili peppers sliced thin (bird chilies or jalapenos work too)
Using a broiler, torch, or a gas stove, burn the cut side of the onion, both sides of the ginger and both sides of the garlic. If you have some wire mesh you can set it on the gas stove for the garlic, otherwise a torch works great for these. You want the surface to be about 50% black as it adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the soup without making it bitter.
Put the neck, gizzards, heart and liver inside the chicken. Place the chicken breast side up and the chicken bones into a stock pot just a little larger than the chicken, then put all the other ingredients for the soup around the chicken. Add water until the top of the breast is almost covered. Cover with a lid and bring the water to a boil over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, skim off the excess fat and impurities on the top then turn the stove to low heat (do not remove the lid), and poach the chicken for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set it aside to cool. When it's cool enough to handle, remove the offal from the cavity and set aside. Carve all the meat off the bones and return the bones to the stock. Simmer the stock for another 1 1/2 hours. Slice up the chicken meat and offal and put it in the fridge.
Soak the dried pho noodles in warm water for about 30 minutes to rehydrate them. Chop up your condiments and have them ready.
When your broth is done, strain it through a fine mesh sieve and skim off any excess oil. Taste the soup for salt and add more as necessary.
Bring the stock to a boil and in a separate pot bring water to a boil to rehydrated noodles, will cook in a matter of seconds, so a couple swishes is all it takes. Split the noodles into bowls and top with chicken, offal, onions, scallion and cilantro to taste, then ladle on the hot broth.
Pho Ga Recipe by Master Chef Helene An of Crustacean Restaurant, reprinted with permission
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