what the pho?

So if you follow me on Instagram or just know me, you know that my latest craving is pho. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that contains broth, rice noodles, some herbs, and meat. You should know that it is pronounced as fuh, so when you go order it you sound like a natural! It is such a simple blend of things, but it always has such a great taste. I’ve had it in Atlanta, Nashville, and Auburn. Although, I think one of the best places I’ve had it is in Auburn, Alabama at Pho Lee, which opened in Auburn a little over a year ago. You should go try it if you live in town. My friends from work don’t know it yet, but I’m dragging them there in the next week or so and making them try it!

I’ve been wanting to make this for several weeks for a couple of reasons: one being that it’s so undeniably good that I eat it way too much and two that this whole blog idea came to fruition over bowls of pho. So it’s fitting! And this weekend, we planned to binge watch House of Cards, get out of the house to have dinner with my cousin & her husband, and then watch more HOC. Obviously this was a perfect addition to that ha!

This recipe came from a blog I found through Pinterest called Lisa is Bossy, so here that is so you can see it for yourself! The original recipe though came from The Steamy Kitchen CookbookYou will see that it is titled “Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho”, however, because I opted to make my own broth the whole process was not a quick one.

To make my own broth, I simply bought a small chicken, some celery, and one large white onion. I chopped the onion in four large pieces and the celery in large chunks with two celery tops for the flavor of the leaves. After that just filled the pot to cover the chicken and added salt and pepper to taste. I let this come to a boil and rest there for about 35 minutes. Then turned the eye down to medium and let it simmer for around four hours. This allowed the broth to become in my terminology – dang good!

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Once the broth was done, then began the double straining process. The chicken was not easy to get out of the pot, let me just admit that. It was so moist and tender that it just fell apart. After fishing it all out, we then poured the pot through the first strainer to simply catch the onion and celery. The second straining process was to catch the smaller items like the salt, pepper, fat, and other drippings. Of course we tasted it at that point and it turned out so well! We also had more than enough for this, so stored some for later use as chicken and rice soup and other things. Then just shredded the chicken to use it later.

Photo Mar 02, 8 23 20 PM

Now starts the process of following the recipe I mentioned earlier! I measured the herbs needed to make this a genuine dish of pho. This called for coriander seeds, cloves, fresh ginger, and star anise. Star Anise are a really cool little fruit harvested before ripening and dried to use in a lot of dishes and other ways. It was not something easy to find in the grocery store, so get ready for that. Also, fresh ginger isn’t the easiest to find but most stores will have it in the produce section. The toasting of these smelled like Christmas morning was happening in the kitchen. It was amazing! The only thing that changed that was when we added the fish sauce the recipe called for. Being that the smell of it made me gag, I did not add as much as the recipe called for haha. So just don’t smell it when you add it to yours! Take my word for it, I would not steer you wrong.

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Once those toasted for a few minutes, I placed them in the pot with the strained both, one half of a red onion chopped, and the slices of fresh ginger. This boiled for about twenty minutes to allow the flavors to combine and make the house smell so unbelievably good. While that was boiling, I chopped the fresh cilantro, basil, green onion, and lime to use once it all starts being put together. It calls for Thai basil, but I used basil and it was fine. Unfortunately the store didn’t carry it!

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On the side (sorry I didn’t document this) I boiled water to place the rice noodles in. These were not fresh noodles like mentioned in the post I referenced earlier, so they took a few minutes longer. They were smaller noodles than what I was used to in pho, but they were the only choice I had at Publix besides the Pad Thai rice noodles and those are just too big. When the noodles are cooked, you begin the process of combining the broth, meat, noodles, and accompaniments into your bowl to your own liking! One common topping that Adam and I have never cared for is bean sprouts, so you will see that in the recipe but I have never added them. Other typical toppings are sriracha sauce and hoisin sauce. I only opt for the sriracha and not a lot of it because I am a wuss when it comes to spicy. Then voila and it looks this good!

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My mouth is watering because I can’t wait for the next time to make this again. This soup is just great at any time, whether you may just have the craving, want to feel a little better or dare I admit had one too many drinks the night before! It’s so good, you just have to try it. Take my word for it!

Side note, if you haven’t read Bossypants by Tina Fey do it. I listened to it while driving this weekend and it’s hysterical. And if you haven’t listened to the new Maroon 5 album, do yourself a favor. Lost Stars and My Heart is Open are current obsessions.

Here’s the recipe (I’ve altered it as if you are making the chicken and broth like I did):

Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Servings: Makes 4 servings (but the two of us downed it, so not sure what that says…)

Ingredients:

For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½  red onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)

Accompaniments:
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro
Fresh Thai basil
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced jalapeno peppers

Directions:
1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
4. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
5. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

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