We had pho for breakfast everyday when in Vietnam. What a revelation that was. A usual breakfast for us might be some granola and fruit or some toast with jam or marmite and a cup of builder's tea (that's English Breakfast, I'll explain another time) which is all well and good, but I am always hungry for some elvenses by, well, eleven. Not when I have pho for breakfast. Even when we spent grueling days walking around temples, pho would last me from 6am – yes we got up with the sun every day for a month – until around 2pm.
Magic breakfast. And tasty too. For those lovely days when I work from our loft, it's now pho for breakfast. When we first returned from our trip, I followed recipes to the T, and it took me a while. Now I've discovered that I don't have to be quite so precise about how I make it, it's always good. Hanoi is famous for pho bo (beef pho) and we stuck to pho bo over chicken partly as their beef is amazing and partly because we avoided poultry in street food because of being cautious of bird flu. The reason for making chicken pho instead of beef at home? It's regular flu season over here and I have had not one but four and counting bouts of horrid sniveling sickness. And as our neighbor and doctor says, chicken soup is the only cure.
Basic recipe follows after the jump.
I take a whole chicken, take most of the meat off and reserve it, and throw the rest of the carcass and skin in a large pot, cover it with water. I tend to buy rotisserie chickens these days from our local food market as they are actually cheaper than fresh because you pay by weight and cooked chicken weighs less. I then throw in, depending on what I have, a carrot or two, some celery, a bay leaf, some peppercorns, an onion, but threw a leek and a parsnip in yesterday, it doesn't really matter. This boils away billowing clouds of goodness around the house for about an hour and a half. I then strain the whole thing.
When I make each batch of pho, I boil the stock with two star anise pods and char a knob of peeled ginger and an onion over a flame and throw those in too. I'm sure this can be done at the time of making the stock, I just tend to use the stock for regular old chicken soup too, so I add it later. I then boil some rice noodles and put them in bowls. The ones pictured here are fresh ones that Melissa got us from an Asian supermarket in Queens which take only blanching to be cooked and the taste and texture is far better than dry. But dry is what I can find most of the time. The noodles shouldn't be chewy like pad thai noodles, but softer and lighter.
I put the infused stock in the bowls over the noodles, then slice an onion into half moons very thinly, shred some scallions and some cooked chicken and place those on top. Then finish with some fresh herbs, most importantly cilantro. Voila – flu cure in a bowl. And an extremely tasty one at that.