A while ago I made Pho bo or often called Vietnamese Pho Noodle soup. Pho bo is usually served with beef. We always like pho noodles. So, I tried to make pho ga, which uses chicken instead of beef. Just like preparing Pho bo, the main work is pretty much on the broth itself, which is actually not that much of the work either. I got this recipe from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet cookbook by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

This warming noodle soup is simply perfect in this cold weather. Just imagine you are watching the snow falling outside and slurping in the noodles like no others’ business. Even if you are not in a four-season country, noodle soup is just good as comfort food. It’s my kind of lunch when I lived in Singapore. It never stopped me from eating warmed noodle soup while wiping away sweat that is dripping from the warm weather lol!

What you will need:
  • SOUP:
  • 3½ lbs chicken, excess fat removed, or you can use leg quarters/thighs
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2- to 3-inch piece (2 to 3 oz) ginger
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, cut into quarters
  • 2 Tbsp Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce, or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1½ cups loosely packed bean sprouts, rinsed
  • 1 lb thin or medium dried rice noodles, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and drained
  • 2- to 3-inch piece (2 to 3 oz) ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 to 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed coarsely chopped coriander
  • ½ cup loosely packed Vietnamese coriander leaves (rau ram/ daun kesum/laksa leaf), or substitute chopped mint
  • 1 to 2 limes, cut into wedges
  1. If using whole chicken, rinse the chicken, including the heart, neck, and giblets, thoroughly with cold water (reserve the liver for another use). Place in a large pot and add the water and peppercorns. If using leg quarters/thighs, rinse chicken and place in a large pot and add the water and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat
  2. As the water is heating, scorch the ginger and the onion pieces, either over a glas flame, using tongs to hold the pieces in the flame until they scorch, or together in a dry heavy skillet over high heat. Turn the pieces until they are blackened on all sides, then add to the soup
  3. Once the water comes to a boil, skim off the foam, lower the heat, and let simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is cooked, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, skimming off the foam occasionally. If the chicken is not completely covered with water, turn it several times during cooking. Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside to cook slightly. Remove the meat from the bones, coarsely shred, and set aside; discard the bones, giblets, and skin
  4. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and strain the broth into a bowl. Let cool, then transfer to several containers and refrigerate, covered, for at east 3 hours. When the broth has chilled completely, skim off the layer of fat on the surface with a large spoon and reserve it for use in the soup or for another purpose
  5. About 30 minutes before you wish to serve the soup, remove the broth and shredded chicken from the refrigerator. Place the soup in a pot, add the fish sauce, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until ready to serve. Taste for seasoning and add fish sauce or salt to taste
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil. Place the bean sprouts in a sieve or colander and blanch them in the boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove and set aside to drain. Bring the water back to a boil, drop in the rice noodles, and cook just until softened but not mushy, 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside
  7. Using the technique describe above, scorch the piece of ginger. Coarsely chop it, then place in a large mortar, add the salt, and pound to a paste. Alternatively, mince the ginger, place it in a bowl, add the salt, and use the back of spoon to mash the ginger, add a little water, if necessary, to make a paste
  8. To serve, divide the noodles among six large soup bowls. Place about ¼ cup bean sprouts in each, then top with the chicken. Add several shallot slices, separated into rings, ladle the hot broth over, and add a dollop of the ginger paste and a dollop of the reserved chicken fat, if you wish. Sprinkle on some coriander and Vietnamese coriander or mint. Serve at once, with small plates of the remaining shallot slices and herbs, a small bowl of the ginger paste, lime wedges, so everyone can adjust flavorings to taste


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