At the start of the year it is true to say that we all like to move to healthier food. I'm not developing recipes over the next month .. just testing, editing and recooking some for the photography and in conjunction with my 2011 New Years Resolutions I have vowed to loose weight. Personally I loath the idea of dieting especially in January, when I just want cheering up! Even thinking that I am to be denied food makes me eat twice what I should anyway1 So I turn to Pho Ga - a Vietnamese Chicken noodle recipe. It’s gently spiced, warm, comforting, hugely aromatic, wonderfully filling and yet still manages to be fantastically healthy. In Vietnam last year I went to a cookery school near Hoi An where I was taught how to make this. Now I know preparing the stock perhaps feels like a bind, and yes you can buy ready made fresh stock, but it is so simple – just throw the ingredients into a pan with water and simmer - well worth the effort I promise and far less expensive than buying it!
NB - I had an email from a vietnamese lady who was somewhat concerned that my soup was made using left over roast chicken. The stock is not completely clear when made from roast chicken, however I think it is much more flavoursome. If the color of the stock offends you then simply use a whole fresh chicken and use your leftovers for sandwiches !
Serves 4 - 6
Freezes Yes – the stock freezes
Preparation 10 minutes
Cooking time 5 minutes
For the stock Linked recipe > Roast Chicken
The bones and some left over meat from two roast chickens,
1lb/450g chicken bones & 1 small chicken
30g of fresh ginger
2 cardamom pods
2 star anise.
For the Soup
Allow 60g flat rice noodles, cooked and refreshed in cold water, per serving
8 spring onions cut into rings.
I pack of fresh bean spouts
A good handful of leaves mint/ coriander and basil
Juice of two limes
3tbs of fish sauce
1 chili sliced into rings
1 Slice the ginger and onions into two and char them on either a griddle or over a gas flame. If you have the chance to roast the onions then do the Vietnamese use slightly burnt onions - it improves the flavor no end. If not, then using a small amount of oil fry the onion and ginger really well before transferring to a large pan adding all the other stock ingredients and cover with water. I use my slow cooker .. but a large pan on the hob will do just as well. Skim off any froth and discard.
2 Simmer for about 3/4 of an hour.
3 Strain the broth, measure it and make up to 2l with water if necessary. (You can freeze at this point) Keep the chicken to one side. Return to the pan and bring back to simmering point. Season with salt and fish sauce. Pop the noodles in a sieve or a steamer basket and lower them into the broth to reheat.
4 Share out the noodles between large, deep bowls and top with some chicken meat, the spring onions, bean sprouts, chilies and limejuice. Ladle over the stock. Add the coriander and mint and basil leaves and serve with extra fish sauce, chilies and lime quarters.