A Quick Pho Recipe To Pep Up Your Weekend Eating

For jolly good reason, pho is the food trend that won't go away. Warming, tasty and actually good for you, there's nothing not to like about the Vietnamese dish.

Just like with any food people fall in love with though, the going price for a bowl of pho has skyrocketed. The place next to Refinery29's office? Charging £7.85 for its lunchtime pho – that's nearly four quid more than a supermarket meal deal.

Sadly, however, pho isn't all that easy to make for yourself at home. Most recipes involve making the broth from scratch which means that, holy cow, it could be hours before you sit down to eat.

Nobody has time for that.

Luckily, new recipe book The Pho Cookbook includes a super-quick (alright, 45-minute) workaround to help you cheat your way to excellent pho.

You're welcome.
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Quick Chicken Pho
Serves 2

Great for pho beginners, this recipe is also terrific for cooks in a hurry. It involves less than 45 minutes, during which you’ll doctor up store-bought broth so it says, “I’m pho-ish”.

The keys to this streamlined approach include toasting spices and dry-sautéing the ginger and green onion, which help to extract flavour fast. Poaching the chicken in the broth adds savoury depth. You’ll practise some fundamental pho techniques that you can apply elsewhere, too. Choose a broth that tastes like chicken, such as Swanson brand, which is less fussed up and easy to manipulate. You need two 411g cans or one 907ml carton.
Ingredients
3⁄4 inch (2 cm) section ginger
2 medium-large green onions
1 very small (15g) bunch cilantro [coriander] sprigs
1 1⁄2 tsp coriander seeds
1 whole clove
840ml-1l low-sodium chicken broth
480ml water
1 (180-225 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh
About 1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
150g dried narrow flat rice noodles
2-3 tsp fish sauce
About 1⁄2 tsp organic sugar or 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
Pepper (optional)

Optional extras: Garnish Plate for 2, 90ml Ginger Dipping Sauce

Instructions

1. Peel then slice the ginger into 4 or 5 coins. Smack with the flat side of a knife or meat mallet; set aside. Thinly slice the green parts of the green onion to yield 2 to 3 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Cut the leftover sections into pinkie-finger lengths, bruise, then add to the ginger.

2. Coarsely chop the leafy tops of the cilantro to yield 2 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Set the remaining cilantro sprigs aside.

3. In a 3 to 4 litre pot, toast the coriander seeds and clove over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger and green onion sections. Stir for about 30 seconds, until aromatic. Slide the pot off heat, wait 15 seconds or so to briefly cool, then pour in the broth.

4. Return the pot to the burner, then add the water, cilantro sprigs, chicken, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to gently simmer for 30 minutes.

5. While the broth simmers, soak the rice noodles in hot water until pliable and opaque. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

6. After 5 to 10 minutes of simmering, the chicken should be firm and cooked through (press on it and it should slightly yield). Transfer the chicken to a bowl, flush with cold water to arrest the cooking, then drain. Let cool, then cut or shred into bite-size pieces. Cover loosely to prevent drying.

7. When the broth is done, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer positioned over a 2 litre pot; line the strainer with muslin for super-clear broth. Discard the solids. You should have about 1 litre. Season with fish sauce and sugar (or maple syrup), if needed, to create a strong savoury-sweet note.

8. Bring the strained broth to a boil over high heat. Put the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve and dunk in the hot broth to heat and soften, 5 to 60 seconds. Lift the noodles from the pot and divide between the 2 bowls.

9. Lower the heat to keep the broth hot while you arrange the chicken on top of the noodles and garnish with the chopped green onion, cilantro, and a sprinkling of pepper. Taste and adjust the broth’s saltiness one last time. Return the broth to a boil and ladle into the bowls. Enjoy with any extras, if you like.
The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam's Favourite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Quynhgiao Nguyen is out now.
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