Vietnamese Chicken Pho - Pho Ga
Easy - You got this
Pho Ga, or Vietnamese Chicken Pho, is an easy to prepare dish heroing silky rice noodles submerged in a pool of aromatic bone broth and infused with eight traditional spices, served with succulent poached chicken. It seems like a dish that would take hours to make, but unlike its counterpart Beef Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), this Pho Ga recipe delivers the traditional flavours of pho on a school night in only 90 minutes.
Like chicken brodo (soup) recipes in Italian households, each Vietnamese household cooks pho in their own unique way. You can always tell when you’re eating your family’s recipe. There are many critical steps that differentiate a homemade pho from a store-bought version: broth simmering time, ratio of water to chicken/beef bones, selection of protein and method of seasoning, just to name a few.
With over 20 years of experience cooking and consuming pho from different Vietnamese households around the world, I’ve come to believe that a homemade pho in Australia is tastier and more complex in flavour than the restaurant-bought option or the bowls served on the streets of Vietnam. Homemade pho in Australia is unique because of its depth of ‘meaty’ and natural savoury sweetness. Because of this, I was inspired to develop an express Vietnamese pho recipe to defy most and create a pho broth that is full of flavour, ready in only a fraction of the time.
Pho is well known to take hours to prepare, hence why it’s typically a meal consumed on weekends in Vietnamese households. However, the use of a pressure cooker can significantly speed up the cooking process. When making a chicken pho broth, the pressure cooker can extract every last bit of flavour from the chicken frames and my curated pho spice mix in just 40 minutes. With such a flavoursome broth, I believe the perfect noodles to complement the flavour profile and give you that homemade pho experience is dried pho rice noodles.
Multiple textures in the one dish is a quintessential trait of Vietnamese cuisine. Because of this, my preference for dried rice noodles with Pho adds a slightly chewier texture to the meal - I always prefer rice noodles with a bit of bite. It’s impossible to experience that ‘al dente’ texture with fresh rice noodles, due to the absence of gluten. Dried rice noodles are readily available at leading supermarkets when compared to its fresh counterpart.
If pho is a dish that you have always longed to cook but have been deterred by the time and preparation involved, do yourself a favour and try this recipe to not only get a quick pho fix on a weeknight, but also build confidence and understand the flavours you can achieve at home, setting you up to one day attempt the traditional beef pho version.
Have issues accessing Vietnamese pantry essentials? Check out my Pho cooking kit to get you started!
1.5kg chicken frames
2 brown onions (bottoms cut off)
25g ginger, slightly crushed
1 bunch of coriander roots (optional)
3-3 ½ L hot water
½ tablespoon salt
8g coriander seeds*
8g fennel seeds*
4g star anise*
5g cassia bark*
3g black peppercorns*
4g licorice root (optional)*
4 g black cardamom*
18g rock sugar or white sugar*
50ml fish sauce
300g-400g pho rice noodles
* Do not include if using duncan lu's pho spice sachet
1.5kg free range chicken (ensure chicken is room temperature before cooking)
½ bunch spring onions
25g ginger, slightly crushed
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ bunch spring onions
1 bunch basil
1 brown onion
1 bunch coriander (optional)
pinch white cracked pepper (optional)
100g bean sprouts
1 lime or lemon
2 chillies, sliced (optional)
2 x large pots
Clean chicken frames with hot water to remove impurities, then split in two and place into the pressure cooker along with pho spices, onions and ginger, then season lightly with fish sauce, sea salt and rock sugar. Fill the pressure cooker with hot water from kettle to maximum level and cook with high pressure for 40 minutes.
While you wait for the broth, cover the rice noodles with water and soak for 45-60 mins, then strain and set aside.
Wash the chicken and trim off any excess fat. Place in a pot with enough cold water to cover the chicken then add spring onions and ginger and season lightly with fish sauce, sea salt and sugar. Bring to the boil then simmer on low for 12 mins, then remove pot from heat and cover well for 35 mins to allow the residual heat to cook the chicken through. Remove chicken and place into a large bowl of cold water for 5-7 mins to stop the cooking process, turning occasionally, then shred the chicken and set aside. Do not discard the poaching liquid (chicken stock) - strain and reserve for another recipe (Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly and Eggs - Thịt Kho) or store in the freezer.
Safely depressurise the pressure cooker, strain broth well into a large pot and bring to the boil, then simmer on low. If you have a smaller pressure cooker, feel free to add 500ml - 1L of the poaching liquid to your pho broth. Refrain from adding all the poaching liquid as this will dilute the ‘pho flavour’ in your broth.
Taste the broth and if it’s to your liking, proceed to assembling. If not, season with additional fish sauce. Don’t be afraid to slightly over-season the broth with salt and fish sauce, as once combined with the rice noodles and garnishes, the flavours will balance out.
In small batches, place rice noodles in boiling water for 30 seconds and strain well, then place in a serving bowl.
Place chicken in a bowl and pour pho broth over to cover.
Garnish with basil, sprouts, a squeeze of lime, chilli and white pepper.
Optional dipping sauce : 2 parts hoisin sauce, 1 part chilli sate/oil and a squeeze of lime.