Living in the northern Berkshires we don’t have easy access to Vietnamese food, the nearest restaurant is about an hour away. My mom was notorious for everything that she cooked, but her soups were exceptional. The hours and hours that went into slow cooking bones to extract all the flavors really tested ones patience. Preparing and making Pho fills the house with the beautiful smells of charred ginger and onions, toasted star anise, cloves and peppercorns.
In an attempt satisfy a craving, I’ve simplified this recipe where you can make it in the afternoon and still serve it for dinner. Granted, this is not the traditional way my mother use to make it, but it does give you all the flavors one looks for in a Pho. Please enjoy.
- 10 whole star anise (toasted)
- 10 whole cloves (toasted)
- 1Tbsp whole peppercorns
- 1 whole chicken (3-4lbs, back removed)
- 5 lbs of chicken parts (back, necks, wings, & other bones)
- 1 piece of ginger (about 4-6″)
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1/2 C fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2Tbsp kosher salt
- 2lbs of Fresh Rice Noodle Sticks
- 25-30 sprigs of Asian Basil
- 10-15 sprigs of Cilantro
- 2lbs of bean sprouts
- 1 C thinly sliced chilies (seranno, bird, or jalepeno)
- 1 C thinly slices red onion (can substitute any)
- 1 C thinly sliced scallions
- 2 limes (cut into quarters)
- In a large stockpot, bring 8 quarts of water to a rolling boil. In a small pan, toast the cloves and star anise over medium heat, allow to cool. Using kitchen twine and cheesecloth, make a spice bag for the cloves, star anise, and peppercorns, set aside.
- Over an open flame, using tongs, char the onions and ginger until blackened, about 2-3 minutes each. When cool enough to handle, remove blackened parts of ginger and onions; I found rinsing in cool water helps clean the unwanted soot off.
- Once water is boiling, add all chicken pieces along with the whole chicken. Return to boil and allow to boil vigorously for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium.
- Add charred onions, ginger, fish sauce, sugar, salt, and spice bag to stockpot. Continue cooking until whole chicken is cooked. About 30-35 minutes, remove the cooked chicken and allow to cool.
- Let the broth cook for at least 2 hours at a medium temperature. Do not allow the broth to boil rapidly, otherwise you will end up with a very cloudy broth.
- While broth is cooking, remove skin and remove meat from the cooked whole chicken. Once all meat has been removed from the bones they can be added back to broth.
- Continue to taste and adjust the broth to tour liking; add more salt, sugar, and/or fish sauce. Be careful, the longer the broth cooks, the more concentrated and salty it can become.
- Place cooked noodles into a large bowl
- Add a handful of cooked chicken
- Add hot broth
- Garnish with cilantro, scallions, onions, basil and beansprouts
- Finish it off with some freshly ground pepper, lime, sirachha and hoisin for a complete dish. Enjoy!