When you have a choice, always choose Phở. You just can’t go wrong and there are so many variations to choose from; beef, meatballs, chicken, seafood, vegetarian, etc. How can you go wrong with the national dish of Viet Nam? I don’t know if that’s true or not but I’ve never met a Vietnamese person who didn’t like phở or who’s family didn’t make it. It’s like how pizza and hamburgers are to Americans.8-)
But first, let’s step back for a minute and talk about the pronunciation of the word, Phở. Please click on the You Tube link for the pronunciation, PLEASE, I beg of you! It sounds more like “fuh” and not with the long “0” sound like I hear a lot of people say. That is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I’ve taught my husband who is not Vietnamese how to say it and even he corrects people now. It’s a phenomenon people, get on board.
Now, onto the good stuff. I call this “Cheat Chicken Phở” because I’m not making the broth from meat and bones. I’m using a soup base and adding some spices so you know there’s very little fat in this. I’m also baking marinated chicken in the oven instead of the traditional method of boiling the chicken and bones and shredding it after. My husband doesn’t like the taste of boiled chicken so I’m trying out a more flavorful way of cooking the chicken this time.
First I turned the oven on to broil and cut a large onion in half. A small or medium-sized onion would’ve worked also. I saved the other half to slice later to garnish the phở bowl. I also peeled the skin off of a knub of ginger. Then I drizzled some extra virgin olive oil on it to help it brown. If you have a gas stove top you can just brown them on there without the oil.
This is what it will look like out of the broiler after 5 minutes and the best part is you can just toss the tin foil afterward.
I took the other half of the onion and thinly sliced it.
WARNING: I strongly advise you use gloves whenever you chop chili peppers and jalapeño peppers! I think I picked these gloves up at Dollar Tree.
I just use whatever I had in my fridge for the garnish; sliced white onions, chopped green onions, lime wedges and jalapeños and chili peppers. I didn’t have cilantro but I did have some fresh basil that I garnished on top later. It helps to have all of your accoutrements ready to go when the phở is ready to eat.
For the chicken, I used thinly sliced breasts and marinated them with lemongrass and ginger paste, fish sauce and soy sauce, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil. I placed them in a pan and baked them in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning them over half way through.
This is what the chicken looked like when they were done cooking and resting before I sliced into them.
While the chicken is resting, you can put together the spices. I use a large tea strainer to hold all of my spices and it conveniently has a hook on it to keep it from sinking into the pot. I also used a mortar to crush the coriander seeds before I added it to the tea strainer.
Since I wasn’t cooking any meat and bones to make the broth I used these pho bouillon cubes to help flavor it instead. You can use this for beef or chicken phở.
After you broil the onion and ginger, you can add it into a pot of boiling water with the strainer of the spices, the bouillon cubes, fish sauce, salt and sugar.
At the same time that you have a pot of water boiling for the pho you can start another one to boil the rice noodles. These are pretty easy to find at your local grocery store in the ethnic foods section.
While the broth is boiling, slice the chicken into bite-size pieces against the grain.
Traditional pho takes at least 6 hours to cook so that the spices and flavors are concentrated. This Cheat Phở is ready right away because you’re not waiting for the bones to cook and the flavors to absorb into the broth. You can assemble it once the noodles are done cooking and then pour the hot boiling broth on top.
I taste-tested the recipe at lunch 😉 and then assembled these bowls for dinner. Sadly my youngest child, Lucy does not eat pho yet so I gave her some of the chicken and some left over pasta for dinner. I’m still working on her and haven’t given up yet. After all, she is part Vietnamese!
Although Lucy didn’t eat it she still loved smelling the aroma of the spices while I was cooking. She also wanted me to take a picture of our Lazy Susan in the center of our table with all the sauces and accoutrements. She has this weird thing of loving watching me add all of the sauces in and the basil, cilantro and bean sprouts (which I didn’t have) and squeezing in the fresh lime juice. I imagine it’s like watching a ritual for her. I’m hoping this will translate into her eating it one day. We just got her to love eating Vietnamese egg rolls last year so baby steps.
So after my little experiment of not cooking the chicken on the bone in the broth and baking it instead, my husband and oldest daughter declared it was the BEST Cheat Chicken Phở I’ve ever made. MAD Goddess For The Win!
I’ll post the exact ingredients shortly but wanted to get the method on here first.