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Pressure Cooker Pho Ga/Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Made this awesome popular noodle soup in a pressure cooker and it was super-easy. Shortcut cooking method but not a shortcut in flavor--Check out this authentic recipe!Pho Ga has become so mainsteam that most folks refer to the dish by its Vietnamese name rather than the translated name “Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup”. What is it about this unassuming soup that has captured everyone’s hearts and tummies? The answer:  simple ingredients–rice noodle and chicken served in an intoxicating broth layered with earthy, aromatic spices. The dish is then enjoyed with abundant fresh herbs and garnishes which further enhance the gastronomic journey! In a word, it’s AMAZING! 🙂

Now that your mouths are watering, let’s get to the recipe. In this post, I share a non-conventional approach for making Pho Ga in a pressure cooker. It’s easy, convenient and allows you to enjoy authentic, homemade pho with minimal fuss. I love this recipe because it’s so easy. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The pressure cooker I am using is the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W. This electric appliance takes the guesswork out of using a pressure cooker.  It’s super easy to use and to clean.

Make the chicken stock from scratch if you have time. (Check out the recipe I shared earlier.) If you’re pressed for time, a store-bought organic chicken broth works great too.

When charring the onion and ginger, it can get fairly smoky so turn on the exhaust fan. The onion and ginger get pretty black but don’t worry as the skin will be removed. If you’re not comfortable with roasting over an open-flame, use a cast-iron pan.

Washing the chicken is a very important step. It rinses away any residual blood and bits that often make the soup cloudy. I use a big bowl to catch the rinse water and this way I can tell the chicken is clean when the water is clear.

If your pressure cooker has a tendency to burn the food touching the bottom of the pot, put down a layer of celery or carrots and then place the chicken on top. The vegetables will buffer the chicken and serve as a natural sweetener for the soup.

After the cooking time elapses, the pressure cooker switches over to a Keep Warm function.  This will keep the soup perfectly hot until you’re ready to serve.

Pho noodles come in different thicknesses and are sized as small, medium and large.  There are no hard and fast rules so choose what you like.  I prefer the medium-sized noodles and cook them for 4 minutes.  The noodles are tender but not mushy.

1 lb of dry rice noodles makes about 2 1/2 lbs cooked rice noodles.  This is a lot but some people like lots of noodles while others love lots of broth.  Most likely, you’ll have some noodles leftover.

Note that I do not season the broth with salt or fish sauce. Each person should salt his or her bowl to taste. When serving this soup, always make sure you provide a generous side of fish sauce. Avoid adding fish sauce directly to the entire soup pot because when the soup is refrigerated, it has a tendency to turn sour.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Steamed Pork Roll and Egg (Bun Thang) and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu).

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion
2-inch section ginger
2 whole star anise
2 cardamom pods
5 cloves
1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3/4 oz rock sugar
1 Saigon cinnamon stick

5 lb whole organic chicken
2 Tbsp salt
9 cups chicken stock
1 lb rice stick/pho noodles, size medium

Garnishes and Accompaniments
2 green onions, chopped
ground black pepper
2 cups bean sprouts, washed and trimmed
Thai basil, sawtooth herb, cilantro, washed
red chilies
jalapenos, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
fish sauce
hoisin sauce
sriracha sauce

Directions

Cut the onion in half. Remove the skin from one onion half and then thinly slice. Place into a small bowl and set aside for now.

Set the heat to Medium Low.  Place the remaining onion half and ginger directly over the flame. Cook each side for 5 minutes until charred. Rinse with cool water to wash off the loose char. Remove the outer layer of skin from the onion and ginger. Using a small knife, scrape off the char. Rinse again with cool water.  Use a pestle or meat hammer to slightly smash the ginger.

In a skillet over Low heat, add the star anise, cardamom, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Stirring occasionally, toast for 7-8 minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Place the spices into a tea filter and tie shut with twine.

Sprinkle salt on the outside and inside of the chicken. Gently rub the salt into the skin. Wash the chicken thoroughly using a steady stream of cold water.

Trim off any visible fat and discard.

Put the chicken into the pressure cooker.  Add the onion, ginger, rock sugar and spices bag.  Pour in the chicken stock.

Cover with the lid and seal.  Set the cooker to High pressure, the timer to 30 minutes and let everything cook.

After the timer goes off, turn the valve to release the pressure.

Uncover the cooker.  Remove the onion, spices bag and ginger if visible.

Using a large slotted spoon, carefully transfer the entire chicken into a large bowl.  Cover the chicken with ice water and allow to soak for 2 minutes.  Drain the water.  Cover the bowl and allow the chicken to cool further.

Skim the broth and remove any bits floating at the top.

Soak the rice noodle in hot water for 10 minutes until limp.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over High heat.  Add the drained noodles and swirl in the hot water.  Boil the noodles for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.  Drain the noodles and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and rinse again with cold water.  Toss the noodles to shake off the water.  Use a salad spinner to spin the noodles dry.  Cover until ready to serve.

When the chicken is cooled, remove the breast pieces and cut into thin slices.  Remove the remaining meat from the thighs and body and shred by hand or cut into thin strips.

To serve, add some rice noodles into a large bowl.  Add some sliced onions and chicken.  Ladle in a generous amount of the broth.  Top with green onions and freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy the soup with the fresh herbs (Thai basil, sawtooth herb and cilantro), bean sprouts, and assorted chili peppers.  Add fish sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce and lime juice to taste.  Enjoy!

Yields:  5-7 servings

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

    

Delicious homemade pho fast-tracked using a pressure cooker. Check out my recipe!

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup/Pho Ga would not be completed without a refreshing plate of herbs, lime wedges and chilies!

*This post contains affiliate links.

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Savory Sticky Rice (Xoi Man)

This is my shortcut recipe for Savory Sticky Rice also called Sticky Rice with Egg, Chinese Sausage, Shrimp, and Chicken.  I call this dish Asian jambalaya because it’s a smattering of different ingredients but, put together, it is deliciously harmonious and satisfying.  The traditional way of cooking the sticky rice is in a steamer.  My shortcut method is to use a rice cooker, which of course, everyone has!  Cook the shrimp, Chinese sausage and egg in a skillet.  Add it all into the rice cooker along with some cooked chicken, mix together and you have an instant meal.  It’s that simple!  This hearty dish is great for breakfast, a snack or light meal.  Consider making a batch and storing in individual portions.  Now you have ready-to-eat meals for school or work.  Enjoy!

Egg Sausage Shrimp ChickenNotes on this recipe, tips and tricks

If you have time, make the Savory and Sweet Sautéed Chicken recipe I shared earlier.  If you’re short on time, buy a rotisserie chicken from your deli.

Any type of sausage works in this recipe so use what you like.  Try a spicy, smoked sausage like Andouille or a Longaniza.  (Back in my college days, I use to make this dish using Spam.  Ok, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  It was really convenient, economical and added the nice, salty component.  If you are a fan of Spam, definitely give this a try instead of the sausage.)

Make sure to cook the Chinese sausages thoroughly.  Most brands of Chinese sausages are uncooked and you’ll see this on the label.  When cooking in the water bath, if the water is evaporating before the cooking time is up, add more water.

Know your sticky rice.  Not all brands are created equally.  Some brands of glutinous rice are very sticky and moist while other varieties are very dry when cooked using the 1:1 ratio for the rice and water.  If you’re not sure, I recommend making a small test batch and then adjusting the water levels accordingly.  This recipe does not require soaking the rice beforehand.  If you are familiar with your brand of glutinous/sticky rice and would like to soak for a softer rice, go right ahead.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

2/3 cup small dried shrimp
1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Chinese sausages
1 cup water
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups sticky rice (also called glutinous or sweet rice)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups water
4-5 oz Savory and Sweet Sautéed Chicken or any cooked chicken
4 green onions
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup fried garlic

Directions

Place dried shrimp in a bowl of warm water and soak for 15 minutes.  Once rehydrated, rinse the shrimp with cool water, drain and then toss in a colander to shake off any excess water.

Heat a skillet over Medium High heat and when hot, add 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Add the shrimp and pan-fry for 3-4 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Remove from the skillet and set aside for now.

Adjust the heat to Medium and add the Chinese sausages to the skillet.  Add 1 cup water.  Cook the sausages in the water bath for 10 minutes rotating every minute.  (If the water is evaporating before the 10 minutes is up, add more water.)  Once all the water is evaporated, cook the sausages for 1-2 minutes to brown them up.  Remove from the skill and set aside.

Beat the egg together with 1 Tbsp water until well combined.  Heat a clean skillet over Medium heat and then add the beaten egg.  Swirl the pan to distribute the egg mixture evenly.  Cook for 2 minutes or until it’s no longer runny.  Fold the egg in half and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

Wash and rinse sticky rice with cool water several times until the water is clear.  Drain the water completely.  Add 1/4 tsp salt and 2 cups water.  Use a spoon or spatula to smooth out the rice into an even layer.  Close the lid and set to Cook.

Cut cooked chicken into thin strips or shred by hand.

Cut the sausages at a slightly angle into thin slices.

Cut the egg into thin strips.

After the rice is done cooking, stir the rice and then add the shrimp, sausages, egg and chicken.  Mix everything together.  Close the lid and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.

For the Scallion Oil, chop the green onions and place in a bowl.  Drizzle with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Microwave on High for 20 seconds.

To serve, scoop out a generous amount of the Savory Sticky Rice.  Top with the Scallion Oil and fried garlic.

Serve with a sauce made of soy sauce and fresh-cut chilies or chili.

Yields: 4-6 servings

Savory Sticky Rice topped with Scallion Oil, fried garlic and served with a side of chili soy sauce.

Sticky Savory Rice Appetizer

 

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Sizzling Savory Crepes (Banh Xeo)

Sizzling Savory Crepes Wrapped in Lettuce with Fresh HerbsIt looks like an omelette but is often called a pancake or crepe.  “Banh” means cake and “Xeo” means sizzle–that’s the sound the batter makes when it’s poured into the hot skillet.  So “Sizzle Cake” is translated here to Sizzling Savory Crepes.   Whatever you call it,  these savory cakes made from a rice flour batter, filled with meat, shrimp and vegetables and then pan-fried until crispy, are simply scrumptious.  Believe it or not there are no eggs in this recipe.  The bright yellow color is actually from turmeric powder, a wonderfully fragrant spice.

These crepes can be enjoyed as an appetizer or main dish.  Some things you must not omit when serving these delicious crepes are lots of fresh greens, lettuce and assorted herbs, Carrot and Radish Pickles and Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce.  Eat these crepes like lettuce wraps.  Cut a piece of the crepe and wrap it in chilled lettuce.  Add some fresh herbs and zesty pickles.  Then dip the lettuce wrap in lots of fish sauce dipping sauce.  So tasty and refreshing!

A few notes on the recipe

The batter needs to rest a minimum of 3 hours to allow the flour to settle to the bottom so you can pour off the liquid from the top.  This process “washes” the flour and makes for a nice and light batter.

You can buy the batter in ready-to-mix packages at the Asian grocery store if you don’t want to mix your own batter.  Just follow the instructions on the package for adding the liquid.

For lower calorie crepes, substitute milk for the coconut milk.  So folks even use beer as the liquid of choice.  Give it a try!  It adds an interesting flavor.

The traditional recipe uses pork but I like chicken in this dish.  Feel free to use any meat you enjoy.

These crepes are best made using a heavy 9-inch skillet. A weighty skillet holds the heat well and allows the crepes to cook evenly and quickly.

Stir the batter each time before pouring into the skillet as the mixture settles. Don’t use too much batter. The crepes should be thin and not thick like a pancake.  Pour just enough batter to cover the skillet.

The proportions for each crepe are as follows:

Batter: a little less than 1/2 cup
1 oz onions
2 oz chicken
3 shrimp
1 Tbsp mung bean
1 oz jicama
1 oz bean sprouts

As stove settings and temperatures vary, adjust the heat accordingly after making your first crepe. This recipe does require you to adjust the heat constantly so diligence is required.

If you’re not serving the crepes right away, place them on a wire rack and keep them warm in the oven set at 200 degrees F.  Don’t place them on a flat surface or they will get soggy.

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.  To reheat, bake them in the oven for a few minutes to get them toasty and warm again.

Watch the video below for instructions.


Ingredients

for the Batter:
1-16 oz bag rice flour
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp turmeric powder
1-14 oz can coconut milk
4 green onions

for the Filling:
1/2 cup peeled split mung bean + 1/4 tsp salt + 2/3 cup water
1 small onion
1 lb jicama
1 lb bean sprouts, washed and trimmed
2 lbs chicken thighs
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 lb size 31/40 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup vegetable oil


Directions

Combine the rice flour, all-purpose flour and water in a large bowl.  Stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.  Let the mixture rest for 3 hours.

Rinse the mung bean with water several times until the water is clear.  Fill the bowl with water and let the beans soak for 1 hour.  Drain into a colander and shake off any remaining water.  Add the beans into the rice cooker along with salt and water.  Spread the beans out making an even layer and then add water (just enough to cover the beans.)  Cook the beans in the rice cooker.  When the cooker switches to the Keep Warm setting, unplug the rice cooker and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.  Gently scoop out the beans into a small bowl and set aside for now.

Peel the onion and then cut into thin slices.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the jicama.  Cut it into thin strips or use the fine blade on a mandoline to shred.

Trim the bean sprouts.

Cut off the root end of the green onions and discard.  Chop the remaining stems and set aside in a separate cup.

Cut the chicken into thin strips. Combine the chicken with minced garlic, salt and black pepper.  Set aside for now.

Carefully pour out the liquid from the top of the flour mixture removing 1 cup and discard.  Add the sugar, turmeric powder, and coconut milk and then mix well.  Stir in the chopped green onions.

Heat a skillet over Medium heat until it’s hot.  Brush the skillet with 1 tsp of vegetable oil.  Add 1 oz onions and 2 oz chicken and stir-fry for 3 minutes.  Add 3 pieces of shrimp to the pan.  Stir the batter quickly to dissolve any settling.  Pour a ladleful of batter, a little less than 1/2 cup, into the skillet.  Quickly swirl the skillet and distribute the batter into a thin and even layer.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of mung beans, add 1 oz of jicama and 1 oz of bean sprouts onto the crepe.  Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 2 minutes (until the shrimp is pink).

Remove the lid and turn up the heat to Medium High.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Check under the crepe and make sure it’s golden brown.  Use a spatula to fold the crepe in half and then cook for another minute.   Transfer the crepe to a wire cooling rack.  Continue making the crepes until all the ingredients are used.

Yields: 15 crepes

Savory crepes filled with chicken, shrimp and vegetables and then pan-fried to golden perfection!

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Ginger Chicken (Ga Kho Gung)

Delicious Ginger Chicken -- so easy to make and so tasty!

This classic Viet dish, Ginger Chicken, strikes a wonderful balance between zesty, sweet and savory.  The ginger is mildly spicy and wonderfully fragrant.  Add in the robust marinade and you have a flavorful dish that is super easy to make.  This is one of my favorites when I need to put a meal together fast.  Add rice and some steamed vegetables and dinner is served.  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

2-inch section fresh ginger
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 small onion, finely diced
1/2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 green onion, finely chopped

Directions

Peel the ginger.  Cut ginger into thin slices and then into strips.

Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces.

In a medium bowl combine chicken with oyster sauce, fish sauce, half of the minced garlic, half of the minced onions, caramel sauce and 1/4 of ginger strips.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

Heat wok over Medium-High heat and when hot add vegetable oil.   Add the remaining onions and garlic and stir fry for 15 seconds.  Add the chicken to the wok and leave the marinade behind.  Spread the chicken in the wok in a single layer.  Cook on each side for 2 minutes.

Add the remaining marinade and water and combine with the chicken.   Cook on Low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the remaining ginger and toss together.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Add the black pepper and green onions.

Yields: 4 servings

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Chicken Liver Pate (Pate Gan Ga)

Not sure if you’ve had or even like pate?  If you’ve had a Vietnamese sandwich (banh mi) chances are you’ve eaten this delicious spread.  Typically made of liver, it’s combined with fresh herbs and spices and then whipped into a creamy spreadable paste.  Yes, it makes an amazing condiment for sandwiches (Check out the recipe for Grilled Pork Sandwich) but more often I like to serve it as a party appetizer with crusty French bread, crackers or a vegetable platter.

A few notes on the recipe

I use chicken livers in this recipe because it’s readily available at my local grocery store.  Feel free to use duck or goose (if you can find it) pork, beef liver or a combination.  Keep in mind pork or beef liver is denser and will change the consistency of the pate.  You can adjust by adding more butter or cream.

Livers can be quite strong-smelling and gamey.  The trick to toning down the smell is in the preparation.  Be sure to rinse the livers with water several times to wash away the blood and soaking liquid.  Also, don’t skip the step where we soak the livers in milk.  This trick really helps to reduce the gameness of the liver.  The longer you soak in milk the mellower it makes the livers.  I like to soak for 1-2 hours if possible but a minimum of 30 minutes.  I’ve read that using milk with higher fat content helps too.  I always have low fat milk at home and so that’s what I use.

Be sure to trim the livers of fat, connective tissues and blood spots.  These bits are stringy (and kinda scary) and we don’t want them in our pate.

Regarding the wine, I love Madeira but you can substitute with any sweet wine or alcohol like Brandy.  Again, I use what I have available but choose something sweet and aromatic.  Another thing we must not skip is the fresh herbs–I use tarragon and thyme but will vary the herbs depending on the season.  Rosemary is nice but use half the amount as it’s pretty strong.  During the summertime, I use basil, chives, cilantro, or dill.  They all work really well so use the herbs you enjoy.

You can vary the processing time of the liver depending on the texture you’d like.  If you prefer a more rustic texture where you can see bits of the liver, pulse in the food processor for 20-35 seconds.  For a smoother more whipped pate, pulse for 1-2 minutes.  The pate will seem a bit loose after processing, like a thin pudding, but will set up after it’s refrigerated.

Remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.  Pate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.  If you want to make a big batch, you can freeze for up to 3 months.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs chicken livers
1 cup milk
4 Tbsp butter
8 small shallots
4 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp Madeira wine
2 Tbsp half and half
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 sprigs fresh tarragon
6 springs fresh thyme

Directions

Rinse livers in cool water several times and drain well.  Cut off fat, connective tissues and any blood spots and discard.  Cut liver into thin slices.  Soak livers in milk for at least 30 minutes.

Finely dice garlic and shallots and set aside.  Finely chop fresh herbs and set aside.

Melt 2 Tbsp of butter in a large sauté pan over Medium High heat.  Add shallots and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Transfer livers to the pan using a slotted spoon and leave the milk behind.  Cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally so livers brown evenly.  Reduce heat to Low.  Add the wine, half and half, salt, nutmeg and black pepper.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Turn off heat, add the fresh herbs and combine.  Remove from stove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Put cooled livers (along with any liquid) plus 2 Tbsp of butter into a food processor.  Pulse until smooth, approximately 1-2 minutes.

Spoon pate into mini loaf pans or ramekins.  Cover with plastic wrap.   Chill for 4 hours.

Serve with crusty bread, crackers or veggie plate.

Yields:  2 mini loaves, approximately 3 1/2″ X 6″

 

 

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