Right. This might sound strange but I find nothing more satisfying than pulling the skin off a chicken – it’s like peeling off your support tights at the end of a long day (I hope this imagine doesn’t freak you out when you have a go yourself).
Pho is a bowl of soup literally full to the brim with the big 5 flavours of Vietnamese cooking: sweet,sour, spicy, bitter, salty.
Most of the ingredients you can find in any small supermarket. Feel free to use those squeezy bottles of ginger and lemongrass puree if you can’t get fresh, but don’t bother with dried herbs as they just won’t do the job.
This recipe is so delicious, so virtuous, clean and fresh with subtle spice. A big bowlful will clear any cold or fill you up after a long day.. just make sure you take off your support tights before diving in.
- 1 whole chicken
- 5 inch piece of ginger
- 2 sticks of lemongrass
- 3 hot red chillies
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 stick of celery
- 2 star anise pods
- a large bunch of mint, with stalks
- a large bunch of coriander, with stalks
- 3 spring onions
- 1 lime
- 4 tsp chilli paste with shrimps
- 200g beansprouts
- two generous splashes of soy sauce
- a swirl sesame oil, optional
- a glug of olive oil
You’ll need a large saucepan, a large baking tray and an oven preheated to 200°c.
Take the string off the chicken so the legs hang comfortably. Cut out the back bone using a pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp knife and chuck it on the baking tray.
Now flip your chicken breast side up, cut off both wings and the legs at the bottom of the thigh and add to the baking tray. Starting at the neck, put your hand under the skin and begin to separate the skin from the body. Make a tear and pull away so that the breast meat is revealed. Pull the skin all the way down to the thighs until it comes away from the carcass. Discard the skin.
Now separate the legs from the carcass and put in the baking tray. Carefully cut away each breast from the carcass and keep aside until later. Press down on the carcass so that it flattens and finally put in the tray. Pour a good glug of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper onto the chicken and roast in the oven for around 30 mins, flipping halfway through so that the meat and bones are nice and golden.
Take the stalks from the mint and coriander, half 3 of the chillies, bash the garlic cloves and thinly slice ¾ of the ginger with the skin. Add everything to the saucepan with the celery stick, star anise and all of the chicken from the baking tray, plus the breasts. Add enough water to cover everything, put a lid on top and bring to the boil. Then Simmer for at least 2 hours until the thigh meat is coming away from the bone.
Carefully drain the stock into another saucepan, keeping the bones in the sieve. When cool enough, pick out the thighs, breasts and wings. Take all the meat you can from the thigh and wing bones and shred the breast meat with two forks. Add all the meat into the stock and discard the bones with the rest of the aromatics. The broth is now ready and should taste lovely and deep with flavour and a nice warm kick.
When you’re ready to serve, add the soy sauce, chilli paste and sesame oil to your soup. Finely slice the spring onions, remaining red chilli and ginger and cut the lime into wedges
Divide the chicken into each bowl, pour the broth over the top then finish with spring onions, chilli, ginger, and the rest of the mint and coriander. Squeeze over the lime and slurp away.
Some nice variations:
My recipe doesn’t include any noodles (I know, not very authentic) but I was feeling particularly healthy when I cooked it and find a massive bowl of Pho with plenty of chicken filling enough. But if you want to add some, pour boiling water over enough rice noodles for for people and leave for 10 minutes. Drain and divide between bowls and pour over the hot broth and add accompaniments.
I love to drop an egg into simmer homemade soup and let it poach in the broth for a couple of minutes. Once you dive into your pho, the runny yolk will explode and give a delicious creamy taste. Try it!
Truly authentic. Add super thin slices of raw flank steak to your bowls before pour over the hot stock and it will cook the outside, leaving the the middle soft and pink.