Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Phở Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

Tough weekend. I couldn't eat all day Sunday for a minor medical procedure on Monday and after getting out of that, I needed something really comforting to eat. Enter phở gà.

Phở Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
When I make pho, it is typically the more common beef version, but when I am not 100%, chicken suits me (and most of us) better. It was Ann's idea that I make chicken noodle soup: good call!

Here are my tips for making phở gà:

1. Poach the chicken until it is done, remove it from the broth, pick the meat from the bones, and return the bones to the stock to keep enriching it. This way, you achieve both goals: rich broth and tender chicken. Leaving the chicken meat in too long just renders it tough.

2. Char the onion and ginger on the flame for a few minutes before adding to the stock. It adds great depth of flavor.

3. Sweetness is optional. I almost never add sugar to chicken pho. But I often add just a touch of Chinese sausage (lop cheung) to the broth at the last minute. It imparts a certain sweetness. This is certainly non-traditional, but it's my bowl of soup, damn it, and I will cook it the way I want.

4. Have a light hand with the seasonings. To a half gallon of stock, I added four star anise and half a stick of cinnamon for just 20 minutes so that the flavor was there, but really in the background. You want the delicate chicken flavor to come through.

5. Knock yourself out on garnishes. I love pickled mustards stems from China, so I garnish my soup with them, but not with so many that I mask the delicate chicken broth.

6. I don't add either hoisin or sriracha to my bowl with chicken as I would with beef. Again, I want the chicken to be front and center.

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