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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cooks' Challenge: Vietnamese Chicken Pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. I have never actually had real pho (we found out from Jaden that it is really pronounced fuh? - yes you pronounce it like a question.. I still always think "faux" when I see "pho" but I'm working on it). I've been to vietnamese restaurants twice (and I really want to try the new place in Clawson!) - once in Honolulu and once in Maui. Both times I ordered.. well I'm not sure what it is called... but it was awesome.. some kind of big platter with beef and all sorts of veggies and noodles and herbs, plus rice papers which you make little "summer rolls" out of. I just love the vietnamese food that I've tried. I also loved the fried spring rolls served with lettuce-wrap sides and dipping sauce, and also I absolutely loved the iced coffee which came out in a french press to which you add sweetened condensed milk to. How could that not be delicious????

So I was really excited to try pho. I've seen it on all the menus and I never really knew much about it. It turns out that pho is all about the rich broth. Jaden gave us two recipes that we could choose from - one long version for making your own chicken broth, and one short version with store-bought broth. Unfortunately I was already making a penne rustica and chicken chili that night so it was the store-bought broth version for me!

I had to buy some interesting ingredients - fish sauce, which I've purchased before but didn't use much of - whole coriander seeds, and whole star anise. I couldn't find that at Kroger and eventually found a great cheap package in the asian section of Ninos for $1.99. Way better than the $7.00 bottle I saw this morning at VG's. Yay for me! Toasting whole coriander seeds (maybe I will use these again in indian cooking), star anise, and cloves starts you off with this recipe. Then you add the broth, fish sauce, sugar, ginger, and simmer a chicken breast and onion in all of this flavorful goodness. Later, the chicken is shredded and the broth is served at the table with an assortment of embellishments - rice noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro, hoisin, lime, chili sauce, sliced red onion, and peppers.

I hope to make the lengthy version of pho sometime but I was pleasantly surprised by the mixture of spices in the flavorful broth and with the bean sprouts, lime, onions and cilantro, etc. Delicious and thanks to Jaden for helping us with this recipe! I probably would have never tried it and now I know how to at least pronounce it if I were to order it at a restaurant too!


  1. This WAS quite a flavorful soup. And yours looks so delicious.

    I had to leave the star anise out because I could not find it anywhere. Somewhere in my kitchen I KNOW I have some...

  2. I use coriander seeds in everything! ;) So I'm sure you'll find another use for it. The things I realize I use the least of is the star anise and fish sauce. Guess I'll just have to make lots of pho!

    I'm really curious about your make-your-own-spring-rolls at the Vietnamese restaurants! hahah! Snap a picture next time? :D

  3. I think this was my first experience with fish sauce and I was SO glad it didn't taste like it smelled *L*

  4. You better get your package of wontons out and create something yummy. I was not going to make wontons but really enjoyed it once I got going.

  5. Wasn't this a fun challenge? Your pho looks great! I hope our next challenge is this much fun. I, too,had to go to many different stores to find the ingredients.

  6. Wonderful job!! Your pho looks awesome, and the post was great =D.

  7. Great job on the looks delicious and lovely! Loved the challenge myself, and can't wait to try the beef version :)