Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pho! A Daring Kitchen Challenge

I had never ever before yesterday, as far as I know, had pho. And yesterday, I made my own! This was, as the title of this post implies, the October challenge for The Daring Kitchen, hosted by Jaden of the Steamy Kitchen.

Here's the challenge recipe:

For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


  1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
  2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
  6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
  7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
Toasting the spices and the additional step of charring the ginger, which isn't in these instructions but can be found at Jaden's blog here, really brought out some amazing flavours. The soup was incredibly rich, even though I cheated and used bought-stock rather than my store of home-made.

I was nervous about cooking this because of all the toasting and charring, but actually, the whole thing didn't take very long, and it ended up being yet another recipe from The Daring Kitchen that will make it into the regular rotation. Adding a dollop of hoisin and some sriracha after it was all assembled really made the dish, as did the squeeze of lime juice. I just wish I had a bigger soup bowl! Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo


  1. One of my all-time favorite dishes... if you are really bold you can toss in a bird chili. :)

  2. Cool bowl - it brings the soup to life! Your pho looks amazing, wonderful job on this challenge!

  3. Not only does your Pho look amazing, (great clear!), but that glass bowl makes such a lovely presenation. I was going to use shot glasses, until someone ate up my soup before I could try it that way! lol Nicely done all around!