In my house, we enjoy pho so much that we had soup bowls made especially for it. Of course, these bowls can be used for other soups such as my spicy chicken and coconut soup, but it really is a pho bowl.
Pho is a Vietnamese soup with a spicy broth, rice noodles, aji peppers and herbs. The most common version is prepared with a beef broth, but takes a bit more effort than the easy-to-do chicken version.
Be sure to *read the recipe before preparing* the soup in order to steer clear of confusion, as it has various steps. You can use a steam cooker or a normal pot; personally, the pressure cooker works much better for broths.
_6 large portions_
1 whole chicken approx. 2 kg
5 liters of water
2 green cardamom pods
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 star anises
1 cinnamon stick, small
1 tsp goji berries
2 onions, small
2 – 3 TBSP panela
salt (i.e. sal de Maras)
1 packet rice noodles
2 onions, small
Olive or vegetable oil
Scallions, chopped (green part only)
Thai basil leaves
Hierbabuena leaves (or peppermint)
Ají limo, cut into thin rings
The first step is *buying a good chicken*. This is the main ingredient and the source of most of the broth’s flavor. I use farm-raised chickens or purchase them from Delifrance.
Wash the chicken well and chop off the tail. I make a broth from the fat, and skim it later. I think the broth has more flavor as a result, but if you want to cut out the fat this would be the moment to do so.
_In a pressure cooker:_ Add the 5 liters of water and place over high heat. When water reaches a boil, add chicken and place lid on pressure cooker. Wait until steam is released, then lower the heat and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
_If using a normal pot:_ Add the 5 liters of water to large pot and place over high heat. When water reaches a boil, add chicken and place lid on pot. Wait until the water returns to a boil, then lower heat. Cook for 45 minutes, partially covered.
Meanwhile, roast the spices: cardamom, coriander seeds, black pepper, white pepper, star anises, cinnamon and the goji berries.
Toast them in a clean pan (without oil) over medium heat for a few minutes, or until they become aromatic and slightly golden. Careful not to burn them. Put the spices in a bowl and set aside. We will use the same pan to toast the onions.
Cut the onions into fourths without peeling them and cook them in the pan (without oil) for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly roasted and soft.
When you can open the pressure cooker, open it and remove the chicken. Leave the broth in the pot. If using a normal pot, follow the same instructions.
Add the onions to the broth and heat partially covered over low heat for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the meat from chicken and cut into pieces. Set aside in a bowl. Return the chicken bones to the broth so they continue to boil and add flavor.
When the 30 minutes have passed, add the spices to the broth along with 2 tablespoons of salt and one tablespoon of panela. Continue to cook over low heat, slightly covered, for another hour.
Don’t allow the broth boil to a bubbling state. To keep the broth transparent, keep it at a temperature that allows it to simmer. You can use a large spoon to remove the fat and impurities during this heating process.
Once the hour is up, season the broth with salt and a little more panela. The broth should be spicy and salty, but balanced. It’s not a sweet broth – the *panela is used to balance the flavors*.
Allow to cook for 10 minutes, then strain.
Place a thin, moist towel over a metal strainer (don’t use plastic or it may get damaged) and strain the broth into a clean pot. Squeeze the towel over the strainer in order to get out all the liquid. Throw out whatever remains in the strainer.
Now the broth is ready, and only needs to be kept warm.
Onto the rest of the ingredients…
Noodles: Boil water in pot, then remove from heat. Add noodles and allow to soak for 5-8 minutes (if they are 2mm then just 5 minutes, and if 3mm then for 8 minutes). Strain and leave in colander.
Bean sprouts: pass the bean sprouts through boiling water for a few seconds, then place in a strainer.
Finally, it’s time to eat!
The following steps can be modified as far as the quantity of each ingredient according to the number of portions you plan to serve.
If you place the noodles in the bowl and they are cold, this is going to cool the soup despite the hot broth. *This soup needs to be served hot*.
Strain a small amount of the broth into a small pot and heat. Add a portion of the noodles to the broth so it can heat slightly, then add one portion of chicken. (This broth will continue to serve as the broth to heat all of the noodles and chicken. It’s not meant to be served in a bowl of soup.)
Strain the chicken and noodles and place in one of the bowls you plan to serve. Add bean sprouts, scallions, leaves from cilantro, Thai basil, hierbabuena, slices of aji limo, and the crunchy noodles. Add hot broth and serve immediately.
Each can season the soup to their liking: with fish sauce, lemon, or more aji if more spice is desired. The *lemon highlights all of the ingredients* and I think it’s essential. The fish sauce gives the umami to the soup, and is not meant to achieve a saltiness.
Don’t wait to make this. It’s definitely worth the effort and, after the first few times, making pho will seem easy.
Oh! And if there are leftovers, *store the broth and chicken separately*. When refrigerated, the broth will develop a layer of solidified fat, but this can easily be scraped off with a spoon before reheating.
_This recipe was originally published on_ “_Supernatural_”:http://supernatural.pe/cocina/pho-de-pollo/