Pho, pronounced “fa” is a clear broth soup full of noodles, herbs, chilli and the meat of your choice. It is really healthy and has flavour enough to knock your socks off.
The broth is the most important part of this whole dish. Making your own really makes a difference but if you really CBF acquiring a whole chicken, then buy a good quality chicken stock and boil it away with the other broth ingredients for an hour or two.
For the broth
- 1 small whole chicken, skin removed
- 2 chicken breasts (optional)
- 2 large onions, skinned and chopped in half
- 3cm of ginger, chopped into 0.5cm slices
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (or ½ teaspoon ground fennel)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 litres hot water (or as much as you can fit in your slow cooker)
- 1 packet (400g) of rice noodles or flat noodles up to 5mm wide
- 4 bok choy, sliced in half lengthways
- 2 cups mung bean sprouts
- 1 large handful fresh coriander leaves
- 2 red chillis, sliced
- half a red onion, very thinly sliced
- 2 stalks of spring onion, sliced
- 1 lime, sliced into wedges
- Start making the broth the day or night before. Take your whole chicken and break off the legs if need be in order to fit everything below the proposed water line in the slow cooker. Place your chicken in a large saucepan full of boiling water. Boil the chicken away for 5–10 minutes to remove the weird pinkish scum. Drain off this water, rinse the chicken, and place it in the slow cooker.
- In a small frying pan with a splash of oil, fry the onion halves and slices of ginger flat side down until they start to char slightly. Flip the ginger slices halfway through too and add garlic. Once ever so slightly charred, place in the slow cooker with the chicken.
- Add in all the spices and the salt, then top the cooker up with the boiling water (if you can’t fit all two litres in, don’t worry, you can add it later once you strain the stock).
- Pop on the lid and leave to cook away on high overnight (so, 12 hours).
- Once the cooking time is up, strain the contents of the slow cooker through a sieve and into a large bowl or container. Try to skim the fat off the top with a spoon or leave the stock to cool in the fridge then scoop off the fat once it has solidified.
- Pick at the bones, removing as much meat as you can and shredding it into pieces as you go. Keep this meat stored in the fridge until you want to serve your pho.
- Warm up your broth and your chicken meat (if you let it cool). Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and cook your rice noodles for a few minutes until al dente. Strain the noodles and divide between the bowls. Bring another pan of water to the boil and cook the bok choy halves for a minute until they turn a bright green, then strain and place into the bowls alongside the noodles. Divide the chicken between the bowls before pouring over the broth. Make sure you add almost two cups to each bowl so that it comes up well above the noodles. Top each bowl with the mung bean sprouts, fresh coriander, chilli, red onion, spring onion and a squeeze or two of lime juice.