Cottage Foodie Recipes

Let’s Make Pho

May 20, 2016





My family loves Pho.  When both kids are home visiting, we order it at least once a week, and love to try different restaurants to find our favorite versions.  I have always wanted to try to make homemade Pho for two reasons:  First, I love to control what goes in my food (I don’t use salt or oil and eat mainly a plant-based diet) and second, we love it so much it would be great to be able to make it at home which eliminates the fight over who’s going to go pick up the food order 🙂

Don’t be intimidated by this recipe.  I have tried a few different variations on the theme in the past, but the broth just never had the richness of this one, which is made with chicken instead of beef.  I came across this recipe in the March 2016 Food and Wine magazine that was created by Chef Jimmy Tu for his restaurant Bunker located in Queens.  I clipped it, read it over again and again for weeks, stared at it even longer, kept it on top of the kitchen island to remind me that I CAN DO THIS.  And boy I am so glad I did.

The ingredient list might look intimidating, but once you purchase the spices needed you will have them on hand for quite some time.  I try to make recipes ‘my own’, sometimes adding or omitting things here and there, but I tried to follow this one to the letter (minus salt and oil). The key to a rich, deep broth using chicken as opposed to beef is to fully roast the spices and to char the onions thoroughly. No skimping – this is what develops the flavor.

I’ve made this a few times now, and I am not going to lie it’s an all afternoon affair, but most of that time the chicken is cooking or the broth is simmering and you are free to catch up on your favorite Food Network shows.  And it is worth the time.  This is truly the best bowl of Pho I’ve ever had, and I think you will agree.   The key to making this efficient is to get your ingredients prepared ahead of time.  Read the recipe and follow the rule of mise en place. For all you non-foodies, you’ll have to look that up.


{making Pho while watching Chopped on the Food Network}

Chicken Pho



  • One 3  1/2 – 5 pound chicken

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds

  • one 2 1/2-inch cinnamon stick

  • 1  1/2 tsps.  black peppercorns

  • 1 tsp. goji berries (if you can’t find them at the grocers you can purchase here

  • 2 shallots, halved

  • 1 small onion, quartered

  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar

  • 1 Tbsp. Asian Fish sauce


  • 3 mediums shallots, very thinly sliced (one cup)

  • 6 oz. dried rice noodles

  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

  • Bean, sprouts, basil sprigs, mint sprigs, thinly sliced jalapeno and lime wedges, for serving

  • Dollop of Sriracha for extra spice

Start the Pho

  1. In a large stockpot bring 5 quarts of water to a boil.  Add the chicken, breast side down.  Place a heat-proof plate over the chicken to keep it submerged and bring to a boil (I used my every day china).  Reduce the heat and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes; it will not be cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a bowl of ice water and let cool completely.  Drain well and pat dry.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron skillet combine the star anise, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns and goji berries. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring until very fragrant for about 3-6 minutes.  Don’t skimp on this – it’s vital to the deep broth flavor.  Transfer to a small bowl.

  3. In the same skillet, combine the shallots, onion and leek.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very deep golden brown (almost black) – 10-15 minutes.

  4. Remove all the meat from the chicken and coarsely shred.

    {cooking the spices}

Simmer the Broth

  1. Return all of the chicken skin and bones to the broth in the stockpot.  Add the pan-roasted shallot, onion and leek mixture and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.

  2. Stir the toasted spices and goji berries into the broth.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour longer.  Add the brown sugar and simmer for another 30 minutes.

  3. Strain the broth into a large bowl (I do this twice), pressing on the solids; discard the solids.  Pour the broth into a clean saucepan.



{before charring the onions…}

{…and after}

Make the Garnishes

  1.  Fry the shallots:  In a large skillet, add low sodium reduced chicken broth (the original recipe calls for oil) and heat thoroughly. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring until golden brown and crispy, 7-10 minutes.  Transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Let cool (they crisp up when cool).

  2. Soak the noodles in a large bowl of boiling water until pliable, 8-10 minutes.

  3. Bring broth to a simmer.  Stir in the shredded chicken and cook until just white throughout, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the fish sauce.

  4. Drain the rice noodles and transfer to large bowls. Ladle the broth and chicken over the noodles.  Top with scallions and cilantro. Garnish with the crispy shallots, bean sprouts, basil, mint and jalapeno and serve with lime wedges.

{making the crispy shallot topping}

{simmering the broth}


The soup makes enough broth for 2-3 family servings.  All you need to do it heat up the leftover broth, and add fresh noodles and garnishes. There is a fantastic Pho tutorial in the March issue of Food and Wine which I found to be very helpful.


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  • Reply Yolanda Thomas May 20, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    This looks so good. Wish my neighbor had some already made so I could have some.

  • Reply GayVanBeek May 20, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I will make you some girlfriend!!!

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