This is one of the most satisfying dishes I have ever made. Those who know me will laugh because I am generally not a huge fan of soups. But then again Pho is not a normal soup. Originating in Vietnam, it is the perfect fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine. Robust rice noodles combined with a delicate broth and fresh aromatics, Pho is understated yet delicious. Traditionally the broth is made from beef bones and usually served piping hot with the prepared ingredients added at the last minute (by the diner.) I opted for a delicate “faux pho” chicken mushroom alternative.
What you need:
- 2 leek stalks: leaves (green part) washed and left whole, the bottom finely chopped
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (left whole)
- 1 sweet onion left whole
- 4-5 cloves (to stud the onion)
- 4-5 star anise (you can use 2 tsp of fennel or regular anise seed for substitute)
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp Chinese 5 spice
- 1/2 chicken: debone and reserve the breast meat, cut up the rest and use whole in the stock
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/3-1/2 cup soy sauce
- water as needed
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1-2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used a Portobello and regular brown button mushrooms)
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 hot pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup each of fresh herbs. I used Thai basil, mint, cilantro and green onion
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 250g rice noodles
- Fresh ground black pepper
How it’s done:
- Place the ginger, 1/2 chicken (minus the breast), leeks, studded onion, star anise, and stock in a medium pot.
- Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil.
- Continue to boil until the onion and ginger are soft (30-45 mins.)
- While the stock is boiling, thinly slice the chicken breast.
- Brown the chicken in a frying pan with the vegetable oil.
- Add the the mushrooms and leeks, continue sautéing until both are cooked.
- Add 1/2 the soy sauce and the fish sauce and deglaze until both are evaporated. Set aside and keep warm.
- Once the onion and ginger are soft, strain the stock.
- Add the sugar and the rest of the soy sauce and simmer for another 10 mins or so.
- Cook the rice noodles as per package instructions.
- To serve: in the bottom of a bowl, place some chicken/mushroom mixture with a portion of rice noodles, cover with broth, add a squeeze of lemon and lime, and top it off with the fresh herbs.
- All of this can be done table side to add to the communal nature of the meal.
Give my faux pho a try, I guarantee you will be impressed as well!