This chicken pho recipe uses the traditional spices and aromatics my mother used in her pho. It’s like a Vietnamese chicken noodle soup with a deeply flavored homemade chicken broth, flat rice noodles, and a delicious array of toppings.
- 5 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 pounds chicken bones or chicken wings
- 1 (3 1/2-pound) whole chicken
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 whole black cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick
- 2 shallots, peeled and halved
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 12–16 ounces dried flat rice noodles
- Lime wedges
- Chopped fresh cilantro
Other optional garnishes
- Fried shallots (see Notes)
- Soft cooked egg yolk (see Notes)
- Asian fish sauce
- Hot sauce such as Sriracha sauce
- Sliced green onions
- Fresh basil sprigs
- Fresh mint sprigs
- Bean sprouts
- Thinly sliced jalapeños
- In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil. Stir in the salt, then add the chicken bones, whole chicken, breast side down. If the chicken floats up above the water, place a heatproof plate over the chicken to keep it submerged. Return water to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that collects at the surface. Using tongs, carefully remove the plate from the stockpot. Transfer the whole chicken to a bowl of ice water and let cool; it will not be completely cooked through. Do not discard the broth in the stockpot.
- While chicken is cooling, prepare the seasonings for the broth. In a large cast-iron skillet, combine the star anise, cardamom pods, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, and cinnamon stick. Cook the spices over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add spices to broth in stockpot.
- In the same skillet, add the shallots and onion. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add onion and shallots to the stockpot.
- Remove all of the meat from the chicken and coarsely shred it. Refrigerate the shredded chicken until ready to serve.
- Return all of the chicken skin and bones to the broth in the stockpot and bring broth to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat for 2 hours. Add the brown sugar and simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large saucepan, pressing on the solids; discard the solids.
- Cook the noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water until pliable, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse well. Divide the noodles among serving bowls.
- Bring the broth to a simmer. Stir in the shredded chicken and cook until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste the broth and season with salt as needed.
- Ladle the hot broth and chicken over the noodles. Top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Add other garnishes as desired.
- You can buy fried shallots at Asian grocery stores or fry your own. To fry them at home, heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a cast iron skillet. Add 1 cup thinly sliced shallots and cook over medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
- To add a soft cooked egg yolk to your pho, first separate an egg yolk into a small bowl or sauce plate. Bring the broth to a rolling simmer. Dip a deep ladle into the broth, filling the ladle about 1/2 full. Gently slide the egg yolk into the ladle then slowly lower the ladle back into the hot broth. Fill the ladle with more hot broth; gently swirl the broth around in the ladle. Hold the ladle in the broth for about 1 minute to let the egg yolk cook. Gently pour the broth and egg yolk into a soup bowl.
- Update: I recently re-visited this recipe and noticed that I had not included the chicken bones in the ingredient list. I’ve corrected the recipe. My sincere apologies to anyone who made the recipe and found it lacking in chicken flavor.
- Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.
Keywords: Vietnamese chicken pho recipe, how to make chicken pho