This is a big bowl of comfort food the whole family will love
Pho is a real comfort food that has to be slurped from a big bowl
Each weekend I make chicken stock, it’s my Sunday ritual. I buy a big plump chicken from Annie’s Roasts in Midleton Farmers market each Saturday. They are slow cooked on a rotisserie and the free range birds always end up in about three different meals. The stock is an added bonus.
I save organic vegetable peelings and onion skins in a tub in the freezer then just tip them all into a big pot with the chicken carcass, a splash of apple cider vinegar and cold water to draw out the flavour. The pure convenience of being able to buy a really good quality bird already cooked means that I have no problem putting in a bit of work at my end by using every scrap of meat.
Annie also cooks free range ducks on her rotisserie. I once saw a woman collect her pre ordered duck whilst another sharp witted customer asked for the chicken that had been cooked directly under the duck, basted in the fat as it slowly turned.
One of my favourite ways to use the cooked chicken is in a Vietnamese pho. Once the chicken is cooked and the stock made it’s simply a matter of infusing that stock with some gorgeous flavours then adding plenty of fresh herbs, the shredded chicken and some rice noodles. It comes together in less than half an hour.
I’ve written here before about travelling through Vietnam when I was a teen with my family. It really made such an impression on me, especially where it came to food. I always love mint, coriander and basil combined and this divine herbal trinity are always present in pho. Be it beef, chicken or just packed full of vegetables Pho is a real comfort food that has to be slurped from a big bowl. A good stock is really the key to the perfect pho so do go to the effort of making your own from a quality chicken or beef bones.
If you don’t have time to make stock, Sadies Kitchen also make a really great ready made stock, Cully & Sully make delicious broths too that could be used as a base for this healthy soup.
Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)
4 cm piece of fresh ginger
2 spring onions or 1 young leek
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 litres chicken stock
300g sliced, cooked chicken
300g rice noodles
2-3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 carrot, peeled into ribbons
1 bunch coriander
1 bunch basil
1 bunch mint
Place the cloves and coriander seeds in a large soup pot over a medium heat. Leave to toast for a minute or two till fragrant.
Peel and cut the ginger into thick slices, bruise with the flat side of the knife to release flavour. Roughly chop the spring onions or young leek, greens and all.
Remove the stems from the coriander, chop them finely and add to the pot along with the spring onion/leek and bruised ginger. Leave to warm for about a minute then add the stock. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat and leave simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain the broth in a sieve over a large bowl to remove the spices, onion and ginger. Return the clear broth to the pan and add the sliced chicken, fish sauce and brown sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Meanwhile soak the rice noodles are per instructions on pack, usually ten minutes in boiling water. Roughly chop all of the herbs and set aside together in a bowl. Drain then divide the noodles and carrot strips amongst four bowls. Top with the chicken and a handful of herbs before pouring over the broth. Serve with a wedge of lime