I was never partial to chicken pho until we tried it in Hanoi. We had it at our hotel for breakfast, and it had a very clear but complex broth, with only the tiniest slivers of chicken meat. It was amazing.
I used the recipe from Steamy Kitchen, and I was very pleased with the results. Paco had three bowls! Today is also the beginning of Chinese New Year, so the noodles that we had are good luck because they represent long life. Winner winner chicken dinner!
Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, or 3-4 lbs of chicken pieces (I used 2 leg/thigh pieces, 4 wings, and a bunch of extra wing tips)
1 onion, halved
3-inch piece of ginger
1 packet of pho spices (or coriander, cloves, star anise, and fennel)
2 T fish sauch
2 T sugar
1 small bunch of cilantro stems, tied
dried pho noodles, boiled and drained
jalapeno, serrano, or Thai chilis, thinly sliced
green onions, sliced finely
Begin by preheating your broiler to high. Put the onion halves and ginger on a baking tray on the top shelf, and broil for 15 minutes, turning at the halfway point. The onion skin will brown and both the onion and the ginger will soften. When they are done, remove the skin from the onion and ginger, and slice the ginger into thick slices.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken pieces, and boil for 5 minutes. There will be a lot of frothy scum that rises to the top. Drain the pot, rinse the chicken in cold water, and rinse out the pot. This is how you make sure that your broth stays clear.
Fill the pot with cold water, and add the chicken, dried herbs, fish sauce, sugar, cilantro stems, onion, and ginger to the pot. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to low and cover. You want the broth to continue cooking at the most gentle simmer possible.
If necessary, skim the broth every 20 minutes, removing any impurities that float the top. After 30 minutes, remove the meatiest pieces of chicken. (For me that meant the legs, but if you used the whole chicken it will be the breasts.) Set them aside to cool. Continue to simmer the broth for another hour (90 minutes total). Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. (Mine required some more fish sauce and quite a bit of salt.)
When you are ready to eat, remove the solids from the broth, reserving as much of the liquid as possible. Shred the chicken that you set aside earlier. Assemble the individual bowls with noodles, broth, and chicken. Serve with bean sprouts, lime wedges, and fresh herbs. Enjoy!