Happy new year!
We recently got back from our annual end of year trip to the coast for a week of quality family time and relaxation. I can really get used to the carefree life of lazing around by the pool, afternoon naps, eating and just playing with the kids. It’s really nice to start the year after a very relaxing holiday. As much as I love not cooking for one whole week and eating out almost every meal, I was really missing home cooked food. We love our asian food and being in a small coastal town there wasn’t much choice for decent asian cuisine. By the end of our trip we were all craving for a hot bowl of noodle soup.
To satisfy our cravings I made this Vietnamese chicken noodle soup called phở gà. This is the chicken version of the well known phở bò (beef noodle soup). Phở gà is the more popular dish than phở bò in our household, mainly because it takes less work to cook and also a healthier option than phở bò as it uses chicken bones instead of beef leg bone which has lots of bone marrow. Phở gà has a more delicate and clear broth but still has the wonderful flavours and aroma of star anise and cassia bark. This aromatic broth is served with fresh rice noodles, shredded chicken and garnished with spring onion, coriander, red onion, Thai basil, bean sprout and fresh chillies. There’s nothing that says phở than the taste and fragrance of Thai basil with this hot bowl of noodle soup.
Phở Gà – Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup
1 whole chicken, cleaned and remove any excess skin and fat
3 kg chicken bones
1 brown onion, peeled and halved
4 inch piece of ginger, skin removed and sliced in long pieces
4 pieces cassia bark
8 star anise
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon salt
1kg fresh rice noodles
10 sprigs Thai basil
a bunch of coriander leaves, roughly sliced
4 spring onion, green part only, thinly sliced
3 red chillies, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
To achieve a clear broth, it is essential to first parboil the chicken bones. In a large stockpot, add the bones and fill the pot with water to cover the bones. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil vigorously for about 5 minutes. Discard the water, rinse the bones with cold water and wash the stockpot clean.
In the clean large stockpot, add the chicken bones and fill with about 8 litres of water and place the whole chicken on top in between the bones, ensure that the water cover the chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off any scum that arises to the top.
Add the brown onion, ginger, star anise and cassia bark. Leave to simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the stockpot. When the chicken is cooled, remove the flesh from the bones. Return the bones into the stockpot. Set the chicken pieces aside to cool and put away in the fridge (discard the skin if you wish). Continue to simmer the broth on low heat for another 2 hours and skimming of any scum.
After 2 hours strain the broth through a sieve over another pot. Discard the bones. Season with salt, fish sauce and sugar. Taste test the broth and adjust the flavour with additional fish sauce,salt and sugar. Put on low simmer for another 20 minutes.
To prepare the fresh rice noodles, blanch in boiling water and drain in a colander.
Prepare the red onion, spring onion, coriander to be ready to add to bowls. Prepare a plate of garnishes (bean sprout, basil, wedges of lime and chillies). Shred the cooked chicken into pieces.
When you are ready to serve, bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat while you are assembling the bowls with noodles. Place a couple of chicken pieces on top of each noodle bowls. Ladle the broth over the noodles of the individual bowls and garnish with slices of red onions, spring onions and coriander. Serve this with a plate of garnishes.