Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

Further to my Ramen Bowl with Beef Sirloin post some time ago, I remembered that I should also post my recipe for the best home-made broth for Pho Ga, the Vietnamese chicken noodle soup. I had quite of few servings of pho in my life and this delicious broth comes pretty close to ones that are served in Vietnamese restaurants.

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One of the least awkward photos that adorned the packaging…

It’s chockfull of flavor, but that wouldn’t be much of a surprise when I tell you that the original recipe comes courtesy of Heston Blumenthal as part of the cookbook that came with his tabletop “Fast Slow Pro™️” multi-cooker by Sage (branded Breville outside the UK).

Unfortunately not being available in the Netherlands, I ordered it about a year and a half ago via Amazon UK (at the time on offer for GBP 160, the current price seems to hover around GBP 180 and $200 over at Amazon US). Obviously, it came with a UK power plug, so the only thing I had to do was to switch the (detachable) female C13 10A power cord with one with a domestic plug – available online for about EUR 7.50 – to make it work here in the Netherlands.

Yes, it’s indeed a pricy gadget, but it does combine a pressure cooker with a slow cooker, so it saves room in your kitchen. As I had neither of them, that was at least the argument that won over Chantal… 😅

The best part is the removable induction heated cooking bowl that provides interesting new capabilities to pack even more flavour in your dishes. You can sear or sauté your ingredients first before selecting the automated fast or slow cooking programs. The pressure cooker comes with a nifty hands-free pressure release mechanism specific to the type of recipe you are making. So either a fast, slow or natural process avoiding, for example, cloudy stocks as a result of a too abrupt pressure release.

Besides the more obvious tender-to-the-touch braised meat options, I can tell you from experience with the pressure cooker function that it works really fast and even works splendidly with whole dishes: stocks, soups, chili con carne, Bolognese sauce and risotto. After removing braised meat reducing your braising liquid into a sauce? Steaming rice, vegetables or puddings? Not a problem for the Fast Slow Pro, and they come out great! No wonder it is lauded by Kenji López-Alt as one of his most used kitchen appliances over at seriouseats.com.

In my view the magic touch of this recipe is charring the onions and ginger as that gives the broth a great depth of flavour. Small tweaks that I have made to the original recipe after having made it a dozen of times or so:

  • Toasting bruised fennel and coriander seeds for a minute until fragrant before adding the wet ingredients.
  • Toning down on the fish sauce (I use about a quarter less of the original 4 tbsp / 60ml) as you can always adjust to taste when the broth comes from the pressure cooker.
  • I use whole chicken breasts instead of chicken legs as it is much easier to clean and shred. In our experience shredded chicken from about 450g / 1 pound of chicken breasts is sufficient for the 4 of us, so that it’s half the quantity of chicken of the original recipe.

I used the Searing and Pressure Cooking function for Soup on the cooker for this one, but you could also still put the ingredients into a regular pressure cooker (it takes about 20-30 minutes on 50 kPa / 6 PSi which is the medium setting on the Fast Slow Pro) or in a slow cooker (for 3–5 hours on High, 4–6 hours on Low).

The recipe (serves 4)

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved
  • 5cm / 2″ piece of ginger, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 small bunch coriander
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 45ml / 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (granulated or grated)
  • 2 liters / 8 cups of chicken stock
  • 500g / 1 pound chicken breasts

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To serve

  • 4 servings prepared pho noodles
  • 1 small white onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

For garnishes

  • 2 cups mixed green herbs (I often use coriander, basil and mint)
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • Lime wedges
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha sauce
  1. With the lid open, select SEAR and pre-heat the cooking bowl. Heat the vegetable oil until shimmering then add the onions and ginger, cut side down. Cook until they have a nice char, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the bruised coriander and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant for about a minute.
  3. Then add the remaining ingredients (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fish sauce, palm sugar and chicken stock) and stir to combine. Add the chicken breasts.
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  4. Close the lid, select PRESSURE COOK or SLOW COOK SOUP and when cooking has completed (roughly an hour for heating up and building up the pressure, the actual cook time of 30 minutes and slow pressure release) transfer chicken breasts to a plate and shred.
  5. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. Skim any scum from the top and season to taste with a grind of black pepper, additional fish sauce and/or sugar.
  6. Place the prepared noodles in individual bowls and top with shredded chicken, onions and green onions. Pour the hot broth over and top with desired garnishes.

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