Sunday, September 26, 2010

PFB #2 | The Classics: Pho Ga - Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup }

First and foremost, I would like to extend a big heartfelt thank you to everyone who voted for me and helped me to advance to the second challenge of the Project Food Blog contest.  For the second challenge, we are asked to tackle a classic dish from another culture and go outside our comfort zone.  I chose to go to the other side of the world to the country of Vietnam and create my version of Pho Ga - Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup.  Voting opens on Monday, September 27th at 6Am through 6PM September 30th.  Please visit this link to learn more about Project Food Blog and cast your vote.

Vietnamese cuisine has a certain distinct mystique. It has long been admired for its freshness, simplicity with flavorful qualities and considered one of the healthiest cuisines. The dishes are artfully composed with an abundance of fresh herbs, greens, vegetables and are well-seasoned. Chinese, Thai and French influences are infused into this Vietnamese cuisine and bring uniqueness. Common ingredients include: ginger, spring onions, lemongrass, chilies, noodles, seafood, beef, chicken, mint, basil and even coconut milk.

One of the distinct differences with this cuisine is the Nuoc Mam or fish sauce. It is derived from anchovy and is spiced with a little chili, garlic, lemon juice and vinegar. The fish sauce provides the inimitable distinction from other Asian flavors.

For many years, I have enjoyed and admired this cuisine for the flavor profiles and the simplicity which appears to be complicated. A few months ago, I was dining with one of my employees for lunch at a local Vietnamese-French inspired restaurant. He decided to have the Pho Tai, which is a noodle soup with rare beef. Being adventurous, I ordered the identical item. When it arrived, I had no idea on how to eat it or what to do with the beautiful side dish of garnishes.

Quickly I learned that you first mix in the desired amount of sriracha and hoisin sauce to enrich the already flavorful broth. Once that is mixed, more flavor and texture is added to this amazing soup by topping with crispy bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapenos, basil and lime juice to add a touch of acidity. The beef is slowly cooked by the heat of the broth and you enjoy by using chop sticks and a spoon.

When I first read the ten challenges for the Food Blog Project, I began to jot down ideas that I would like to accomplish with each challenge. After reading challenge number two, “The Classics”, the idea came to me like a lightning bolt. After tasting the Pho Tai several months ago, I decided that I would tackle Pho Ga (Pho is pronounced ‘fuh’). Pho Ga is a delicious Vietnamese soup with chicken, loaded with spices, fresh herbs and rice noodles. The idea of this soup sounds simple, yet the taste is anything but. It embodies complex flavors with simple, healthy ingredients.

Many folks believe that Pho noodle soups originated in the 1920’s as a union of French-style cooking merged with local Vietnamese ingredients. If you ventured to Vietnam to the local food stalls, you would be guaranteed to smell the distinct flavors of the Pho noodles broth and see the locals hunched over enjoying a large bowl of Pho soup. This soup was customarily enjoyed for breakfast but today it is a round the clock treat. Typically, the broth takes 4 to 7 hours to prepare however, my style of cooking is much more simple and I went outside the box on this tradition.

To save time and put my own twist on this classic, I decided to use really good prepared chicken stock along with a rotisserie chicken. My husband had never enjoyed this Vietnamese delight, so I was even more excited to prepare this iconic dish. After adding the sauces and condiments to this flavorful soup, I took my first taste. I amazed myself and a feeling of such accomplishment ran through my head. I exclaimed to my husband – “I actually replicated the soup”.

I would like to personally thank each of you who voted for me in the first challenge and helped me to advance to the next round. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Pho Ga: Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 4

12 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Large white onion
2 Medium pieces of fresh ginger
1 Rotisserie Chicken, 1 ½ cups shredded chicken
2 t. Salt
2 t. Sugar
2 T. Asian fish sauce
2 T. Whole coriander seeds
4 Whole cloves
3 Whole star anise
6 oz. Package dried rice noodles
8 oz. Bean sprouts
1 C. Cilantro leaves
1 C. Thai basil (regular basil can be used)
2 Limes cut into quarters
2 Jalapenos, thinly sliced
Sriracha sauce
Hoisin sauce


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the onion into quarters, leaving the skin on and cut the ginger in half lengthwise. Lie onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. The onions should begin to char. Leave in an extra 10 minutes if more charring is desired.

In a large pot, add the chicken stock and put the burner on high. Add the charred onions and ginger along with the salt, sugar, coriander seeds, cloves and star anise. Let the broth come to a boil and reduce heat to low after it boils. Let simmer for another 30 minutes to develop the rich exotic flavors. After it has simmered for 30 minutes, then add the fish sauce. Keep the broth hot.


Soak the noodles in warm water for 15 minutes until pliable. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drain the noodles and add to the boiling water. Boil until tender for about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well. Transfer to four large bowls.


Divide the shredded chicken among the four bowls. Prepare four plates with the accompaniments to add to the soup. This would include: basil leaves, cilantro leaves, 2 quarters of lime, bean sprouts, and jalapenos along with a small bowl with the sirachi and hoisin sauce for each person to add to the soup. You can provide a small spoon for your guest to allocate the desired amount of sauces. Let them know to squeeze the lime into the soup and add the condiments to have the full Pho Ga experience.


  1. I love Vietnamese cuisine and I surely love this post. Great job! You got my vote!

  2. Bookmarking this recipe ! Our next door neighbors are Vietnamese and they have been spoiling us with their amazing dishes each time we go over. Needless to say I'm slowly falling in love with this 'cuisine'. Good Luck with PFB

  3. Lisa, what a fabulous job! Congrats on successfully recreating this dish. I agree that pho has so many levels of flavor--it's hard not to like. Your soup looks so fresh and comforting, just plain good. Count on my vote. :-)

  4. Lisa! Great to meet you as well. I'm so happy you're trying your hands at pho--it is on my list of all-time favorites!

  5. I have never been to a Vietnamese restaurant. Definitely going to have to try it now.


  6. This Vietnamese Pho Ga Soup looks amazing. I can almost smell it through my computer monitor. Your photography is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this culinary delight and best of luck in the PFB Challenge!

  7. Pho! Pho! Pho! Damn I love me some pho--even when it's hot out. My brother is pestering me to make Pho for him (I keep telling him to go buy some), but the ingredients seem pretty basic for this area. I am down with your Pho! (and completely spazz right now)

  8. I LOVE pho and I have yet to make it. Thanks for the recipe! Good luck with the challenge!

  9. i love pho so much. it is a perfect classic, i say.

  10. Great job with the pho! Good luck, I'm sure you'll make it to the next round.

  11. Wow... love this Vietnamese version of chicken soup. Sounds so delicious!!

    Good luck on round 2!!

  12. Lovely photos! Great work! Love Pho Ga!

  13. Vietnamese food is definitely one of my favourite cuisines, and pho is definitely a classic! Well done for recreating this so well and good luck for this next round!

  14. This is lovely, Lisa. I love pho a lot and have always been intimidated making it at home -- why make it if I can get it fast in a Vietnamese noodle place. But I am inspired to try to make it after reading your post! Beautiful photos. Best of luck in PFB!


  15. Wonderful job on this challenge. This recipe looks perfectly wonderful!

  16. this would make a nice meal on a cold rainy day. yummy!

  17. You made me drool on my keyboard, that looks so amazing! You definitely get my vote, and good luck in PFB!

    You can see my entry at

  18. I love pho, it is indeed a classic! Great job and best of luck!

  19. Great post! I love pho. Yum! I voted for you!

    Good luck!

    You can check out my PFB post at :

  20. Love this soup and all its ingredients. Looks fresh & healthy, yet comforting. And I love that chili sauce. It's my fav. Voting now ;)

  21. Hi Lisa, This is one of my comfort food: Vietnamese Pho. Just by reading your post made me want to have another bowl of this lovely soup (which husband and I just had some last Friday)
    Of course you have my vote. Have a great week.

  22. Mmm. Pho Ga would be a hit with my Hubby and this would totally be taking me out of my comfort zone. I need to try looks and sounds so flavorful. Very nicely done! :)

  23. Love the pictures. Pho is on my list to go and get with some foodie friends in Boston's Chinatown. Now to set that date!!!


  24. Voted for you and good luck with PFB :)

    I would like to invite you to participate in my giveaway

    Here is my entry for PFB

  25. Very nice...the soup sounds fantastic :) Looking forward to your entry for #3 :)

  26. Wow, there's nothing better or more comforting than a good bowl of pho - you nailed it! You've got my vote!!!

  27. Voted for you! Your pho looks so light and fresh - fantastic photos! I live near Little Saigon and Vietnamese food is one of my favorite cuisines that I don't cook :)

  28. I love this take on chicken noodle soup! As soon as it cools off here in Phoenix, it will make it on my list of foods to make :)

  29. Great minds must think alike! Happy to vote for you and support you! Good Luck! I like your short cut idea!

  30. Yum! That looks great! I am pretty sure I could eat it for breakfast! Good luck!

  31. Pho is one of my absolutely favorite dishes and you definitely did a great job with this! Good luck and you've definitely got my vote!

  32. This got me hungry for a moment, it looks so lusting and delicious. I have a great collections of great recipes found at and also with which has a lot of great soup recipes.


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