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.
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).
Garnishes and Accompaniments
2 green onions, chopped
ground black pepper
2 cups bean sprouts, washed and trimmed
Thai basil, sawtooth herb, cilantro, washed
jalapenos, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
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
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