In this Vietnamese Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) recipe, you’ll learn how to make a home-cooked, authentic Vietnamese chicken noodle soup.
- Learn how to clean your chicken properly before making the Chicken Pho broth
- Learn how to prevent dried, tough chicken meat
- This soup is lighter, easier to cook than its more well-known cousin, Vietnamese Beef Pho.
- You can make Chicken Pho in the slow cooker too!
How to clean chicken for Chicken Pho
The quality of the chicken directly affects how your broth tastes. Look for organic, free-range birds. It’s worth the extra few dollars.
To make the best tasting Chicken Pho, you must clean your chicken properly. The skin of raw chicken is full of extra guck, minuscule feathers, dirt, peeling skin and even powdery bone fragment. I know, it’s not appealing to write about or even read, but it’s the reality of raw poultry. All the stuff you don’t clean off your chicken, goes right into your precious Pho Ga broth.
Exfoliate the chicken!
To clean the chicken, I exfoliate the skin with kosher salt. Kosher salt is large and grainy enough to give the chicken a good rubdown. Just take a handful of salt:
And rub all over the chicken.
Rinse, and pat the chicken dry.
Much better, right?
This extra step that only takes 2 minutes, ensures a clean chicken for a clean broth.
Parboiling chicken also ensures a clean, clear Chicken Pho broth
Before actually making the pho ga broth, you’ll want to vigorously boil the chicken parts. Bring a potful of water to a boil. While the water is boiling, carve your chicken into parts: drumsticks, thighs, breasts, wings and the body.
When the water comes to a hard, rolling boil, add the chicken parts. Return the pot to a rolling boil and keep the heat on high. Let boil vigorously for 5 minutes. You’ll see grayish and white scum rise to the top of the pot. Keep watch on pot to make sure it doesn’t boil over! This vigorous, hard boil cleans the chicken even further. That scum is not good eating!
After 5 minutes, drain the pot into a large colander to catch the chicken. Rinse the chicken with cold water. Quickly wash the pot, scrub the sides to get rid of any scum. Add the chicken back into the pot, and refill pot with clean water.
Now, you can make your Chicken Pho broth! Those two extra steps for cleaning chicken is not absolutely necessary, but it will give you the cleanest, best tasting Chicken Pho soup you’ll ever have.
Secret to juicy, succulent chicken meat for eating
In this recipe, an entire chicken is used for making soup, and for slicing to serve with the Chicken Pho. The chicken is simmered for about 2 hours to make the broth. After 2 hours of cooking, the meat is dry, rubbery and tasteless.
Instead, we will remove the chicken breasts (or thighs if you prefer dark meat), about 20 minutes into cooking, so that they’ll stay succulent and juicy for your bowl.
Vietnamese Chicken Pho Recipe (Pho Ga)
For the Chicken Pho Broth
- 1 unpeeled onion halved
- 4 inch piece unpeeled fresh ginger sliced into 1/4" slices
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 3 1/2 pounds whole chicken organic preferred
- 2 pounds chicken wing tips, bones or chicken feet
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar or 1" chunk of rock sugar
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander
For the Chicken Pho Bowls
- 1 1/2 pounds dried rice noodles
- 1/2 onion very thinly sliced (shaved)
- 2 stalks green onion chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, leafy tops only
For the Table
- 1 pound bean sprouts
- 1-2 jalapeño chiles sliced
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- 1 bunch fresh Thai basil
- Asian sriracha chile sauce optional
- Hoisin sauce optional
Make the Chicken Pho Broth
- Place oven rack on upper 1/3 position. Turn oven on to broil (low). Place ginger slices and roast for 10 minutes, until softened and browned.
- Fill a 12-quart, or larger, pot halfway with water. Bring to a boil. In the meantime, use the kosher salt to exfoliate the chicken, rubbing the salt all over the chicken to clean the skin. Rinse all of the salt off. Cut chicken into thighs, drumsticks, breasts, wings.
- When water is boiling, add the chicken pieces, including the 1 pound of wing tips/bones. Return water to hard boil and keep heat on high. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes. Drain water into sink, using a large colander to catch the chicken parts. Rinse each piece of chicken with cool water. Wash pot, scrubbing away any scum. Return chicken to pot, add in the roasted ginger and onion, add the coriander and cloves, and refill pot with clean water (about 6 quarts).
- Bring water to boil over high heat, then turn the heat to low to keep a steady simmer. Use a skimmer to remove any scum that arises to the surface. Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove the chicken breasts and thighs, and let cool for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Remove the meat from the bone. Slice the meat and reserve for the bowls. Return the bones to the simmering broth.
- Continue to simmer broth for an additional 1 1/2 hours. While the broth is cooking, it's a good time to prepare the noodles, and also the herbs for the table so you have everything ready.
- When broth is done, use tongs or spider to remove the chicken parts, onion, ginger and spices to discard. Strain the Chicken Pho broth in a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Return broth to the pot. Season broth with fish sauce and sugar. Taste, and adjust with additional, if needed. Turn the heat to low, to keep the soup hot.
Soak the Noodles and Prepare for the Table
- Soak the dried rice noodles in hot tap water for 10 minutes. They'll soften just a bit, and become more opaque. Drain the noodles. In the meantime, bring a separate pot of water to a boil.
- Prepare the bean sprouts, basil, jalapeño, limes and sauces for the table.
Assemble the Bowls
- When you're ready to serve, prepare:-Pot of chicken pho broth on low heat, soup ladle nearby.-Sliced chicken meat -Hot boiling water for the noodles, soaked/drained noodles on counter, ready to cook. Have tongs and a small sieve or spider ready.-Line up 6 large bowls - Divide shaved onions, chopped green onion and cilantro leaves between the bowls. -Herbs/sauces at the table.
- You'll cook the noodles in batches. One batch per bowl. The noodles only cook for 20 SECONDS. Any longer than that, the noodles will overcook and become gummy. Add a batch of noodles to the spider. Lower the spider into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Lift and shake off excess water. Add cooked noodle to a bowl. Repeat for remaining bowls. Ladle Chicken Pho broth and add sliced chicken pieces into each bowl. Serve immediately.