Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Recipe: Vietnamese Chicken Pho - Pho Ga

Lighter in flavor than its beef counterpart but no less lacking in flavor, chicken pho is not given its fair amount of lime light.  I was bribed into giving chicken pho a fair shake when my mom introduced me to young chicken egg.  I love all things related to eggs.  When I was promised several young chicken eggs and nuoc mam to dip my chicken, my interest was piqued..  After I tasted nuoc mam dipped chicken paired with the young eggs and delicate broth my mom spent hours to make, I was sold.  This dish is still as comforting to me as beef pho.

What does young chicken egg look like?

This recipe is memorialized from memory and lack of measuring tools so my apologies in advance for any confusion.

12 qt stock pot

3 yellow onions UNPEELED
2 knob of ginger, UNPEELED
1 daikon
15 star anise, toasted
3 cinnamon sticks, toasted
2 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted
2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
2 cardamom pods, toasted
10 cloves, toasted
1 cup fish sauce
2 chunks of yellow rock sugar
2 lbs of chicken (I've found using a fryer chicken yields a gorgeous yellow broth that is quite flavorful but this is personal preference)
Any chicken bones you may have in the freezer, toss 'em in!

Place star anise, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, and cloves into a cheese cloth after they have been toasted.

1. Turn on oven broiler.  Half the onions and ginger.  Place onions and ginger onto a cookie sheet and slide sheet under broiler.  (The purpose of halving them is so that they don't roll around under the broiler).  Broil for 15 minutes, making sure the onion and ginger becomes charred.  After 15 minutes, remove with tongs and rinse onion and ginger under warm running water.  Rub off the charred skin.  Trim and discard the blackened root and stem ends.  Peel ginger skin.  Make sure all blackened spots are cleaned off.  Bruise the charred ginger lightly with broad side of a knife.  Set onion and ginger aside.

2. Parboil the chicken to release the impurities.  Drain the chicken and wash each to thoroughly remove any impurities still clinging to the chicken.  Clean the stock pot as well.

3. Return chicken and chicken bones back to clean stock pot.  Add the daikon, the cheese cloth of spices, rock sugar, fish sauce, the charred onions and ginger.  Fill the pot with water.  Simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours at a minimum.  

4.  Taste to ensure the broth is seasoned to desire.  Remove all solids and strain the broth.  Allow the broth to cool over night.  A layer of fat will condense.  Remove the fat.

(Note: I used my Le Creuset Dutch Oven to make the broth.  After 3 hours, I turned off the heat and put the lid on and left it like that until it completely cooled.)

Assembly: (simmer broth while you are assembling the bowls)
pho noodles
shredded chicken (I recently discovered that I LOVE using rotisserie chicken meat)
1 yellow onion, sliced paper thin, soaked in cold water
3 or 4 scallions, thinly sliced (I prefer to slice them diagonally because it's more aesthetically pleasing to me)
young chicken eggs
pepper (I prefer white pepper)
Nuoc mam (Vietnamese dipping sauce) - optional

1. Boil pot of water.  Put pho noodles in for about 5 seconds using a strainer, swirling noodles entire time to prevent clinging.  Alternatively, place pho noodles into a strainer that will fit in your pot of boiling water and submerge.  Remove the noodles and make sure water is drained before placing into a big bowl.

2. Top each bowl of noodles with the shredded chicken and young chicken eggs.  Place a mound of yellow onion in the center and garnish diced scallions on top.  Finish with a sprinkle of pepper.

4. Increase the heat of the broth and bring to a ROLLING boil.  Ladle broth into each bowl.Serve immediately.

Alternatively, the chicken can be served on a separate dish alongside the young chicken eggs.  You have the option of dipping the chicken with nuoc mam.  If you're feeling adventurous, you can also add giblets and intestines.

Garnish with Thai basil, culantro, bean sprouts, Thai or Serrano chiles (thinly sliced), hoisin sauce, and or sriracha sauce.  Squeeze lime juice.

Click HERE for my oxtail pho recipe!

Bon appetit mes amis!

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