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Vietnamese Chicken Pho Recipe (Pho Ga)

4.67 from 6 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 6 people


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. 
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