Traditionally served as a breakfast soup, pho is one of the national dishes of Vietnam. This chicken pho uses a whole chicken and plenty of aromatics to give the broth a really rich depth of flavour.
- Put the whole chicken in a very large saucepan. Add 5 litres of cool water and slowly bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then skim off any fat and scum from the surface. Turn the heat down further, to low, and simmer for another 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the spice bag. Put the spices in a small frying pan, then toast for 1-2 minutes on a medium heat, until fragrant and darkened, but not scorched. Lightly crush, tip into the centre of a 25cm muslin square and tie into a secure bundle with kitchen string.
- For the aromatics, use the flame of a gas ring to scorch the onions and ginger all over. Using tongs, hold each item directly in the flame one by one, keeping hands away. Or use a hot grill, turning to blacken evenly. Cool on baking paper, then peel the blackened skin. Roughly slice.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, leave to cool for a few minutes, then remove the meat from the bone and chilli. Put the bones and skin back into the cooking water along with the spice bag, onions, ginger and garlic. Simmer over a low heat for about 2 1⁄2 hours, skimming regularly.
- When the broth has reduced by half, season with salt to taste, then carefully strain into a large bowl through a sieve or colander before returning to the rinsed-out pan. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, then add the fish sauce and brown sugar.
- Shred the cooked chicken meat and divide among 8 large serving bowls along with the noodles, beansprouts, spring onions, chillies and half the coriander. Ladle over the hot broth. Serve with the remaining coriander, lime wedges, extra fish sauce and chilli sauce, to taste.
Seafood: Bring 3 litres fish stock to a simmer, then follow steps 2 and 3. Add 1 tbsp fish sauce and 1 tbsp sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes, then steep for 30 minutes. Strain. Add 1 x 350g pack defrosted Seafood Selection and 200g (7oz) scallops or diced haddock and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pork: Simmer 1·4kg (3lb) pork ribs for the stock in step 1, for 2 hours. In step 5, add 250g (8oz) sliced pork tenderloin; cook through.
Vegetarian: Simmer 3 litres (5 1/4pt) vegetable stock with the spice bag and aromatics for 20 minutes; set aside for 30 minutes to infuse. Strain, then simmer 2 x 160g packs tofu pieces until piping hot. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce.
When simmering the stock in step 4, top up with water if it looks like it’s reducing too quickly.
By the end of the stock cooking time (step 5), the stock should have a rich, deep flavour. Taste, then leave to cook a little longer if it doesn’t.
Use a metal spoon or ladle to skim the stock (step 4), sweeping it over the surface gently to remove excess fat and scum. Put the melted fat in a bowl and chill until solid before discarding.
Don’t skip the charring stage for the onion and ginger (step 3); it imparts a sweetness and extra depth of flavour to the broth.
You can carry out steps 1-5 in advance, then shred the chicken, cool and chill overnight, or for up to 48 hours. When ready to eat, reheat the stock and chicken gently until simmering, then serve as per step 6.
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
The broth is suitable for freezing. Cook as instructed and allow to cool completely. Then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. To reheat and serve, place on medium heat, stirring occasionally until it is heated through.
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For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home and view the full Food safety at home video.