This page may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link. This post is about the amazing and incredible Vietnamese Chicken Soup called Pho Ga!
What is Pho?
I was born in Saigon, Vietnam. Saigon is now called Ho Chi Minh City. Although I am not Vietnamese (my ethnicity is Korean-American), I have a fondness for Vietnam, which I was able to return to visit in 2010, as well as Vietnamese food. 🙂
Vietnamese cuisine is one of the MOST amazing cuisines in the world! And Pho, which is a Vietnamese noodle soup, is one of the MOST amazing soups in the world!
Pho is considered the National Dish of Vietnam, for good reason! The popularity of Pho has exploded over the last few years and is now adored around the world!
“Pho” consists of rice noodles, broth, meat, and herbs. There are two main types of pho…pho ga (chicken pho) and pho bo (beef pho). Both are incredibly delicious, and here I’d like to share an absolutely fantastic Pho Ga recipe with you!
Recipe Courtesy of Dao!
Before we get into the nitty gritty, I have to give a HUGE thanks and shout out to my friend Dao from San Francisco! This amazing Pho Ga recipe is Dao’s and he gave me permission to publish it here. You can find Dao on Instagram @daofromsf! He is super funny and an awesome all around great person! Please follow him on Instagram!
A Short Summary of How To Make Pho Ga
This Pho Ga recipe will involve 2 days. 2 DAYS? It sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not as bad as you think, and it’s TOTALLY WORTH IT! Much of the first day’s creating is hands off (think boiling the chicken and then simmering the bones). The 2nd day you will add your spices and noodles, all the while anticipating that first bite of pho which will BLOW YOUR MIND!
Here is a short bullet list of how to make pho ga:
- Prepare and boil the chicken (along with charred onion and ginger) for 2 hrs
- Remove the chicken then separate the meat and the bones. Return the bones and skin to the broth and continue simmering for 2 hrs. Allow to cool, remove all bones and other solids and leave the broth overnight in your fridge.
- Dry fry some spices (cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, and star anise), and then add this to your broth and simmer for 35 minutes or so.
- Remove these spices, add chicken bouillon, fish sauce, and rock candy, then add some cooked rice noodles and chicken back to the broth.
- Dish up your pho into some HUGE BOWLS and add awesome herbs like cilantro and Thai basil, bean sprouts and lime. Sriracha too please!
- DIG IN!!
See? That’s not too bad right? Let’s get cooking!!!
The Method To Make Pho Ga
It all starts with the chicken! Here, I use an approximately 5 pound whole chicken. Now, most likely you will have quite a bit of actual chicken left over (it’s too much to place all of the chicken into the finished pho broth), so you can use the extra lovely moist chicken in another dish. 🙂
Day 1 of Pho Ga Making
As you can see in the picture above, I have placed salt on this chicken. The first step in this pho ga making process is to rub the chicken well with salt, and then rinse.
You will then need to char some onion. I’ve charred mine in a cast iron pan. If you look at the Instagram post above, Nate charred his straight on the gas burner. Whatever works for you is great!!
Skim off Scum!
Let’s get this going! I used a large 8 qt stock pot and placed the chicken, charred onion, ginger, and water (3/4 full) in the pot. Crank up the heat and get it to boil, and start skimming off the scum with a slotted spoon when you begin to see it. This is important to help you achieve a clearer broth. 🙂
After it has boiled for awhile and you have skimmed off the scum, turn the heat down to just below medium where you can have it going at a simmer, and cover. You will simmer now for 2 hours. Hand’s off time where you could go for a walk or perhaps watch a movie! 🙂
Remove the chicken after 2 hrs of simmering and allow to cool a bit. Separate the meat from the bones and skin, and place everything except for the meat back into the stock pot. Please top up the water level to around 3/4 of the stockpot at this time. Continue simmering the bones and skin for another 2 hours. Again, some hands off time to enjoy another walk! 🙂
After the 2 hours, turn off the heat and you will now remove the solids from the broth. You can either strain the broth, or use a slotted spoon. At this point, allow the broth to cool, and refrigerate it overnight.
Day 2 of Pho Ga Making
The next day there may be some fat solids on the broth as pictured below. Remove some of the fat solids with a slotted spoon. I recommend leaving some of it though for extra flavor!
Now it’s time for spices yay! You will need the following spices which will be added to the broth:
I have linked to Amazon for these items for convenience. The products I used, as pictured below, were purchased from different stores and markets, and you may be able to find all of these items at your local Asian grocer or major retailer.
There are also premade spice packs for pho seasoning that you could use as well if you’d like to try them. Here is one called Old Man Que Huong Pho Bac Spice Seasoning from Amazon, and your local Asian grocer may sell them as well. I can’t speak for those because I haven’t used them, but wanted to mention them as they are available!
You will simply measure out the spices according to the recipe instructions, and then dry fry them on a low heat until they are extremely aromatic. 🙂
Enjoy the Intoxicating Aroma!
Simmer these spices in the broth for around 35 minutes (enjoying the fragrant aroma all the while!) and then remove. Now you will add the following (mostly to taste):
Again, I have linked to Amazon for items but you may find these products at your local grocer or Asian market. I will say that if you can’t find Rock Candy, sugar will do as a substitute.
The Recipe instructions will guide you as to recommended quantities to start out with, and then I advise to add more to taste. Be aware that the broth should be salty though. 🙂
We are almost ready sit down with a heaping bowl of delicious Pho Ga! Last steps are to:
- Cook pho noodles and add to the broth
- Add chicken to the broth
- Prepare garnishes (i.e. mung bean sprouts, cilantro, Thai basil, lime)
I used these Asian Best Rice Sticks and they worked very well! I cooked 1/2 of the package (follow package directions) and added this to the broth.
The Rice Sticks actually come in different sizes, so you can choose amongst small, medium and large widths. My preference is small, so that is what you see here.
Tuck Into The Finished Dish!
Here we have the beautiful Pho Ga in all its glory! Your hard work has definitely paid off, and now it’s time to pile on the garnishes, add Sriracha, and slurp away!
Pho purists please forgive me! I have read that Sriracha is supposed to be used for the meat, and that it’s not really meant to be added and stirred into the soup. So, by all means use just for the meat if you prefer, or play around with it as I have. To me it’s all good. 🙂
I truly urge you to take the time to make this dish if you love Pho! Making your own broth is LIFE CHANGING. 🙂 Ok, that might be a bit dramatic but no ready made store bought broth can compare to making your own broth!
Finally, I can vouch to say that it is EXTREMELY satisfying to slow down and take the time to create and enjoy this most incredible of dishes! Pho usually shows up in lists that celebrate the top foods of the world and if you check this article on CNN called “The World’s 50 Best Foods” updated 9/29/20 check out #9 and there you will find Pho!
ăn ngon miệng nhé!! “Enjoy Your Meal!” in Vietnamese. 🙂
Some Other Dishes You May Enjoy!
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- Tea strainer or cheesecloth (to contain the spices)
- 8 qt stock pot
- Cast iron pan (not mandatory but preferable for charring the onion and ginger)
- 4.5-5 lb whole chicken
- salt to wash the chicken
- 1 onion peeled and quartered or halved
- 3 inch ginger
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 3 whole star anise
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 ts fennel seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3.5 tbsp chicken bouillon I used Lee Kim Kee
- 3.5 tbsp fish sauce I used Three Crabs Brand
- 2 tbsp rock candy
- .5 lb rice sticks pho noodles
- mung bean sprouts recommended garnish
- cilantro recommended garnish
- Thai basil recommended garnish
- lime recommended garnish
- Turn up heat to high on your stove, and char the onion and ginger on a cast iron pan. Leave aside.
- Remove the chicken from it's plastic and remove all innards. Cover the chicken with salt. Rub the salt into the skin, and then rinse and pat dry.
- Place the chicken, charred onion and ginger into the 8 qt stockpot. Add water so that water reaches 3/4 to the top of the stockpot.
- Bring to the boil, and using a slotted spoon skim off the scum that rises to the surface.
- Once the scum has been removed, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 2 hrs.
- After 2 hrs, remove the chicken and allow it to cool a bit. You can speed up the cooling process by breaking up the chicken using some kitchen utensils. The broth will continue simmering during this time. Once the chicken has cooled and you can handle it, separate the meat from the skin and bones. Add the bones and skin back to the broth. You most likely will need to add some additional water at this time (keep the water level at 3/4 height of the stock pot) and continue simmering for 2 hours (covered).
- After the broth has simmered with the bones and skin for 2 hrs, remove from the heat. Allow to cool, and then remove all solids from the broth (use a strainer or slotted spoon). Once completely cooled, place the broth (and the chicken) in your fridge to rest overnight.
- The next day, remove the broth from the fridge, and remove some of the fat solids that you see. I recommend leaving some of it though for extra flavor! Set it on your stove on a medium heat. Dry fry the whole cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise, and coriander seeds on a medium low heat until the spices are fragrant and highly aromatic.
- Place the spices in cheesecloth or a tea strainer. Add this to your broth, and bring to the boil. Lower to a simmer, and simmer for around 35 minutes.
- Remove the spices, and begin to add your spices. Add 3.5 tbsp chicken bouillon, 3.5 tbsp fish sauce, and 2 tbsp rock candy. Stir well. Taste, and then begin to add additional chicken bouillon and fish sauce to taste.
- Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Once finished, add the noodles and as much of the chicken as would you like back to the broth.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Once the noodles and chicken have been added, be sure to taste the broth again! The noodles will soak up a lot of the flavor. So add additional bouillon and fish sauce to compensate for this. The end result of the broth is that it should be salty.
- Dish it up now into HUGE bowls and garnish to your hearts content!