I had my first pho experience about a year and a half ago with my friends, Yanglin and Ali. We went to this small Vietnamese restaurant in Nashville called Miss Saigon and Yanglin, being the experienced eater here, ordered for everyone. Within minutes, the waitress came out with this huge bowl filled with noodles, beef, pork meatballs, beef tendon and the most amazing broth. The smell was amazing – it was warm, comforting, and cleared up my sinuses within seconds. Then came out a platter of bean sprouts, Thai basil, mint, peanuts, and a collection of hot sauces. I couldn’t wait to dig in. Taking the lead from Yanglin, I threw in a bit of everything, stirred in some hoisin and sriracha and just went to town. No one talked for a few minutes. All you could here was the slurping of the soup. And when we finished, it was smiles all around – extreme satisfaction.
After that one amazing experience, I’ve been trying my hand at recreating pho. Although my recipe isn’t the most traditional, it uses authentic, fresh ingredients, is really easy to prepare, and is pretty darn tasty. For this dish to be good, the broth has to be perfect – take time to make an awesome one and your time and effort will be rewarded.
Chicken Pho (serves 4)
(Recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti)
For the broth:
2 quarts of homemade chicken stock (store bought is okay)
2 inch piece of ginger
4 cloves of garlic
1 T soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp of brown sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a pot and simmer for about 30 minutes while you prepare all the garnish. Taste the stock and add salt to taste.
For the garnish:
2 chicken breasts, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, cut into sticks
2 carrots, cut into sticks
1 cup of rice vermicelli noodles (soaked in water until plump)
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
4 T chopped, fresh mint
2 T chopped peanuts
a few cut up limes
Cook the chicken briefly in the warm chicken stock. Remove when cooked.
In a bowl, add the noodles, chicken, bell pepper, carrots, jalapenos, cilantro, mint, and chives. Pour some hot broth over the ingredients through a sieve to catch all the garlic/ginger pieces. Add peanuts, hoisin, and sriracha to taste. Squeeze some extra lime juice over the top if you prefer!
This will get rid of all your spring allergies!