Last Christmas Day came with a flurry of friends, board games, and of course, good food. By the day’s end, I found myself with a chicken carcass – the result of a friend’s generosity. Taking advantage of this rare treat, I picked the carcass clean, tossed the bones into my slow cooker along with water, and let them simmer overnight. In the morning, I poured the rich stock into glass containers and refrigerated them. Later that evening, I skimmed the hardened fat from the top of the stock, and set about making pho.
Unfortunately for me, the only pho (pronounced fuh) I’ve had is in Korea, and (much like Chinese food in the States) the pho here is suited to Korean tastes. So while Vietnamese pho broth is usually created using a combination of star anise, cloves, fish sauce, and lots of ginger, the Koreanized chicken pho broth tastes very much like American chicken soup. In Korean pho restaurants, hot sauce is always on the table, basil is out of the question, and, if you’re lucky, they keep cilantro in the back just for customers like us (we asked three times for more on our last visit). My simple pho recipe reflects my experience in Korea, and should be seen as more of a stepping stone to the real dish. I promise to post a more authentic version, should I ever visit Vietnam.
Though this pho is anything but the traditional Vietnamese version, it is the perfect way to stretch a roasted chicken into another meal, without feeling as though you are eating leftovers. Those without a chicken carcass need not fret, as store bought low-sodium chicken stock will work well. For those wanting less meat in their diet, omitting the chicken is fine, though I added the extra pieces I picked from the carcass in this recipe.
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1.5 liters chicken stock To Serve:
1 cup diced yellow onions Beansprouts
1 package pho noodles (16oz) Cilantro
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice Yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded chicken (optional) Lemon or lime wedges
1 inch piece ginger, sliced Scallions, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced Chili paste
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, bring the chicken stock to just a boil, add the onions, garlic, and ginger, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the pho noodles in a bowl of hot water for 20 minutes or until they are just tender.
When 20 minutes has passed, strain the broth, discarding the pieces of onion and ginger. Pour the broth back into the pot. Add the lemon juice and shredded chicken and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Strain the soaked pho noodles and divide them between the bowls. Add ladles of broth to each bowl of noodles and serve hot with plenty of beansprouts, cilantro, lemon or lime wedges, thinly sliced onions, scallions, and chili paste.