Chicken, Prawn and Mushroom Pho

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup made up of nutritious bone broth, fresh herbs and spices, noodles, bean sprouts and is served primarily with either chicken or beef. It’s incredibly light, fresh and full of flavour. At least that is how I know it from my travels through Asia. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered this recipe for Pho during a Chinese Cuisine evening at catering college. Not only did my tutor believe it to be a Chinese recipe, but insisted on referring to it as Po. I didn’t correct her, I didn’t want to be that person. And of course she is forgiven; I guess all noodle soups do essentially look the same. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations for this recipe. I’ve eaten enough Pho to know a good one from a bad one. However, I was proven very wrong.

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I’ve never previously tried to make Pho at home. I was never too sure how to create the delicious, flavoursome stock, the bone broth which is of course at the very heart of the dish. Or rather, I assumed it would take a long time to make, with an even longer list of ingredients. But with this recipe you simply slow cook your chicken in a deep roasting tin with a selection of spices, almost completely covering it with water. By covering the tin with foil, or by using a lid, you contain all the lovely flavour in the juices. By the time the chicken is cooked- moist, flavourful and falling away from the bone- you are left with a dark, punchy bone broth.

The recipe I learnt at college was for a basic Chicken Pho with egg noodles, but upon remaking I thought I’d try adding some mushrooms and fresh king prawns, as well as replacing the egg noodles with soba noodles.

 

INGREDIENTS:

(makes enough for 2 main meals- with extra chicken left over)

  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 whole chicken (approx 1kg)
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 100g sliced mushrooms
  • 1 bundle of soba noodles (80g)
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • a good few handfuls of fresh coriander and/or mint
  •  1 lime, cut into little wedges

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METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180/160 for a fan oven.
  2. Start by dicing the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and place into the roasting tin. Add the 5-spice blend along with the soy sauce. Place the chicken in amongst the spices and cover with approximately 1 litre of water- it wants to be about 3/4’s covered. Cook in the oven for 2 hours.
  3. When your retrieve your bird from the oven, remove it from the pan and leave it to rest covered with some foil.
  4. Sieve the liquor from the roasting tin into a pan, add the fish stock, sliced mushrooms and gently simmer on the hob.
  5. When the mushrooms have softened add the noodles and the prawns to the bone broth whilst you prepare your serving dishes.
  6. In each bowl add some shredded chicken, sprinkle some bean sprouts, tear a good handful of coriander and/or mint, and squeeze some lime juice into the bottom.
  7. When the prawns are pink and the noodles are soft, ladle the bone broth and prawns into the dishes and serve with additional wedges of lime and fresh herbs.

 

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