Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pho real

Pho has always been a favorite, usually post work stop offs at the locals to get my fix before heading home. Not really quite nailing it at home and feeling dejected and disappointed at my futile attempts which rather left me with a why bother it’s cheap enough to buy out anyway attitude. Homemade isn’t always best, but there is a certain satisfaction in creating something yourself, so it was with much joy I received the latest issue of Lucky Peach, which is dedicated to all things Pho, and recipes to boot. So here is Pho Ga, adapted from Lucky Peach.

1 Chicken, size 16
1.5 kg of chicken necks or carcasses
3-4 Brown onions
1 piece of ginger, about the size of your hand
1 piece of ginger, about the size of your thumb
1 stick of cinnamon
2 cloves
3 cardamon pods
2 star anise
1 dried red chilli
1 Bunch of scallions
White pepper
Fish sauce
Pho rice noodles (I like the small sized flat noodles, not vermicelli, but each to their own)
  • Rub the chicken with salt until the skin is taught and refrigerate overnight, or a couple hours at least. Remove half an hour before cooking.
  • Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil, you need enough to submerge the chicken and cover it by an inch.
  • Slice the thumb of ginger and scallions and add to the pot, also add the dried chilli.

  • Lower in the chicken and bring back to the boil, cook for 15 minutes then turn off the heat and cover, let it sit for 30 minutes for a 1.6kg (size 16) bird.
  • Slice the onions in half and arrange on a sheet pan with the hand of ginger, place in the oven for an hour.
  • Get an ice bath ready. 
  • Gently remove the bird from the pot and place in the ice bath. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
  • Strain the solids out of the cooking liquid and put it back on the heat.

  • Remove the meat and skin from the cooled chicken and put the remains and juices in the pot.
  • Take the onions out of the oven and peel, remove any overly burnt bits, slice the ginger in half. Add to the pot along with the necks or carcasses, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise. If there is not enough liquid to cover the bones by about an inch add some water.

  • Bring the pot to a simmer, add a teaspoon of salt, reduce the heat to low gentle simmer, cover and cook for 4 hours.
  • Shred the meat and skin into long pieces, refrigerate until needed.
  • Strain the broth into a clean pot. Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, adjust and season with salt, white pepper and fish sauce.
  • Place the noodles into a bowl and cover with boiling water, let them stand for 5 minutes, or follow the instructions on your packet.
  • Place a portion of noodles into a hot bowl, top with a handful of the shredded chicken, sliced scallions and fried shallots. Serve with the fixings below arranged on a plate or two so you can dip into them as you need.

Sliced fresh chillis
Fried shallots
Sliced Scallions
Vietnamese mint
Bean sprouts