Summer Chicken Pho
My very first experience with pho (pronounced “fuh”) was in Chinatown in Toronto, Canada. I was hanging out with one of my closest friends, Carmen, who suggested we have lunch at her favorite Vietnamese restaurant. As soon as we sat down, Carmen grabbed a menu and pointed to a picture of a bowl of noodle soup with what looked like raw beef on top. “They make the best pho here for just 5$!” she exclaimed and said that it came topped with beans sprouts, fresh basil, mint and a big lime wedge. Since I love beef tartare and all kinds of noodle soups, this pho thing sounded like something right up my alley. “I’ve never had it but my mouth is drooling from just hearing about it. I’ll have one too!”, I said to Carmen as I raised my hand to get the waiter’s attention.
It was love from the first slurp – all the elements were there to get me hooked on pho. The broth was deeply flavored with spices such a cloves, star anise and cinnamon. The rice noodles were perfectly cooked and the fresh basil, mint and chilis made each bite a different experience. A squeeze of lime along with a few drops of sriracha sauce took the dish to another level of yumminess. This was a food experience I’ll never forget since it marked the beginning of my obsession with pho.
Since then I’ve eaten many variations of pho – I’ve had vegetarian pho, chicken pho (pho ga), spicy pho with short ribs, seafood pho, dry pho, you name it I’ve tried it. I’ve also become quite the expert at making quick and easy pho. Take this summer chicken pho for example; it’s ready in 30 minutes but tastes like it’s been simmering for hours.
What makes this recipe a little different is the use of corn and caramelized shallots which add pops of sweetness throughout the dish. I’m also cooking the chicken in boiling hot water – a method that is very close to poaching. Once the chicken is cooked, it is shredded into strips so every bite is tender and silky. For this recipe, I’m using Just BARE Chicken Breast Fillets which are American Humane Certified and traceable to family farms (Just BARE Chicken carries a wide variety of organic and natural products). This means that the chickens are vegetable and grain fed, have access to outdoors, and are raised with No Antibiotics—Ever.
One of the things I love about this pho recipe is the fact that it’s so healthy. The mix of spices, lean poultry, vegetables and comforting broth makes it a winner even among those who think soup is boring. There’s something inherently addictive about chicken noodle soup done the Southeast Asian way.
Some of the best chicken noodle soups can be found on the side of dirt roads in Thailand. One bowl will cost you a dollar and seating comes in the form of a rock or tree stump. And don’t be fooled by the lack of bells and whistles, there’s enough flavor in the broth alone to make your taste buds dance for hours! This is cooking in its purest form. It’s made with love from an old lady who has been making the same chicken soup for decades – which makes it hard to beat.
I’d like to think that this simple summer chicken pho recipe can help you get an idea of what authentic Southeast Asian food tastes like. It’s pungent, aromatic and clean. Not only are the flavors traditionally Southeast Asian but so are the textures. Chewy rice noodles, fresh basil and mint leaves and the traditional shredded chicken method. Soups on!
Did you like this Summer Chicken Pho Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.