This week I would like to share part two of Irma’s February post. The idea popped into my head whilst sampling a delicious Chicken Pho at my new local Vietnamese restaurant- I instantly thought I need to make one of those at home. So off I went and did some research, Pho was first mentioned around 1910 and became very popular in post war Vietnam, it is traditionally made with beef or chicken broth and is actually eaten for breakfast in some parts of Vietnam, so an all day winner.
Making a deliciously fragrant chicken broth is a quick affair and gives you lovely lunches, dinners and for those who like it even breakfasts. Like summer rolls this soup is a bit of a patch work dish, you can choose from a number of fresh ingredients to add. I went for some lovely dark green calvo nero, alfafa and mung bean sprouts, carrots, spring onions, turnips, fresh mint, coriander and Thai basil. You can also add brown rice vermicelli noodles or courgetti when in season, cauliflower makes a great addition as well, pho is your oyster so to say.
You can imagine that with all those fabulous fresh ingredients you get a good antioxidant boost served in a soothing and warming chicken broth, the perfect dish for a grey Winter’s day! Adding chili at your own discretion brings some extra heat for particularly cold days!
I hope you got on well with crafting your own Kimchi over past week, if you didn’t get round to making it, try and get some from an authentic Korean restaurant. Serving a side of Kimchi gives an extra crunch and for a flavour twist you can pour the kimchi into the soup, which I tend to do towards the end.
Chicken broth Pho – serves 2-3
1 tbsp of coconut oil
4 small cloves of garlic- crushed or finely chopped
2 shallots sliced
1 medium hot chili – pierced or cut in half for more heat ( remove seeds to control the heat of the chili)
2 stalks of lemon grass sliced
3 inches of ginger finely chopped
4-6 organic chicken thighs – skinned
Spices : 2 whole star anise; 1 cinnamon stick; (spice mix for grounding: 1 tsp of coriander, 1/2 tsp of fennel, 1/2 tsp of dried ginger, 2-3 black pepper corns, 1 clove, 1 tsp of coconut sugar- alternative to own spice mix is 1-2 tsp of 5 Chinese spice )
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp tamari sauce
1.5 -2 litres of organic chicken stock
1-2 tsp of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste
Garnish per person
1/2 carrot finely sliced or shredded
1 Jerusalem artichoke finely sliced or shredded ( add some lemon juice, so it keeps its colour)
1 spring onion sliced
1 cup of Cavlo Nero or cabbage ( chopped and blanched with boiling water)
1- 2 tbsp mung bean and alfafa sprouts
1/4 fresh lime
1 cup of brown rice vermicelli noodles or courgetti (optional)
Extra chili sliced (optional)
A handful of fresh mint, coriander, Thai basil
First heat the oil in a large pot and cook garlic, ginger and shallots at medium to low heat until golden brown, then add spice mix and cook for a minute or two to enhance the flavour of the spices. Keep stirring to mix spices and other ingredients well. Next add chicken thighs, cook for a couple of minutes before adding hot chicken stock, fish sauce, lemongrass, star anise and cinnamon stick – cover with a lid and simmer at a low heat for 1.5-2 hours. The soup is ready when the chicken easily comes off the bone.
Once cooked, remove the chicken from the soup and strain the broth through a sift, return the clear broth to the pot and add tamari, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, simmer for another few minutes before serving. I like to keep the spices in the soup and tend to return them to the simmering broth for further infusion, but this is optional.
Shred the chicken with a fork, cover and set aside and prepare the brown rice vermicelli noodles as per instruction on the packaging, if you like to add some- once cooked, set aside in a bowl.
For freshness I usually prepare the other vegetables 10 minutes before serving, they look super nice served on a big plate together with the shredded chicken for guests or yourself to choose from.
Serve the piping hot broth in a nice deep soup bowl with fresh ingredients and vermicelli with a side of kimchi salad.