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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).


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


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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Sticky Rice Cakes with Star Anise (Xoi Vi)

Sticky riceUse cookie cutters to cut these snack cakes into some fun shapes! and mung bean are the dynamic duo in Viet cooking.  These two ingredients are commonly used to make a variety of sweet and savory dishes.  (Check out the other sticky rice and mung bean recipes I’ve shared below.)  This recipe falls into the Dessert category although it’s just slightly sweet.  The recipe is super easy and unlike some desserts that need to look perfectly pulled together, this dish can be more rustic looking.  So don’t obsess if the layers aren’t perfectly even and uniform.  You won’t even notice them as you’re gobbling up the cakes–I promise! 🙂

Notes on the recipe, tips and tricks

Know your sticky rice–I’ve mentioned this in an earlier post but want to emphasize how important this concept is.  Different varieties and brands of sticky rice require different water levels.  For sticky rice that is not soaked (as in this recipe), use a water to rice ratio of 1:1 when cooking in a rice cooker.  Again, this varies depending on the brand and variety.  This recipe requires a good amount of rice and I don’t want you to waste it, so, if you are not sure how much water to use with your particular brand of rice, make a test batch by cooking 1 cup of sticky rice with 1 cup of water.  Then adjust the water levels accordingly.

Sticky rice is chewier and has more texture than regular white rice.  A lot of people make the mistake of not cooking it fully.  Using a standard rice cooker, after it switches over to the “Keep Warm” function, don’t open the lid and stir the rice right away.  Allow it to cook for another 10-15 minutes.  This extra time makes a big difference in improving the texture of the rice.

If your rice cooker isn’t big enough to cook all the rice at once, separate it into two batches. Keep the batches separate and this saves you the step of having to divide the rice for the 2 layers.

Use a food scale to weigh the rice and this will ensure your layers are even.

The mung bean filling should have the consistency of whipped potatoes when done cooking. As the filling cools, it will thicken up further.  If your filling is still drippy after cooking for the suggested time, continue cooking to evaporate the liquid.  Optionally, you can thicken the filling by adding cooked glutinous rice flour, approximately 1 tsp – 1 Tbsp should do the trick.

These cakes freeze and reheat really well.  Cut the cakes into squares and then wrap individually with plastic wrap.  Place all the wrapped cakes inside a resealable plastic bag and store in your freezer.  When you need a breakfast or a quick snack, just take one of the cakes out of the freezer and microwave on High for 1-2 minutes.  The cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months.

A lot of folks find star anise a bit overpowering.  This recipe doesn’t use much of the spice but if you don’t like it, you can skip it or substitute with Pandan essence.

Want more sticky rice and mung bean recipes?  Check out some of the other recipes I’ve shared:
Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Cakes (Banh Tet)
Sticky Rice and Hominy (Xoi Bap)
Sticky Rice and Mung Bean Dumplings (Banh Khuc)
Quick Sticky Rice and Mung Bean (Xoi Xeo)

Watch the video below for instructions.


Rice Cake
4 1/2 cups sticky rice (also called glutinous rice or sweet rice)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
3 cups water (see Notes above and adjust as needed)
5 drops green food coloring

2 dried star anise or 1/2 tsp star anise powder
1/4 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds

3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups mashed mung bean


Wash the rice by rinsing with cool water 3-4 times or until the water is clear.  Drain the rice using a colander.  Toss the rice in the colander for 1 minute to shake off any remaining water.

Add the rice into the rice cooker along with the sugar, salt, coconut milk, water and the green food coloring and combine well.  Level the rice in the cooker by using the back of a spoon.  Place the lid on and set to Cook.  After the rice cooker switches to the Keep Warm function, allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes.

To make the filling, in a wok over Medium Low, combine the coconut milk, sugar and salt and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the mashed mung bean and combine with the syrup.  Stir the filling continuously to incorporate all the ingredients.  Cook for approximately 7 minutes or until the filling thickens and resembles whipped potatoes.  Let the filling cool while continuing with the next steps.

In a small skillet over Low heat, toast the star anise until they become fragrant, approximately 2-3 minutes.  Place the star anise into a spice grinder and pulse until it’s a fine powder.  Sift the powder into a small bowl and then set aside.  (The larger bits can be discarded.)

After the rice is finished cooking, remove the lid and stir the rice gently.  Add the star anise powder and mix with the rice.  Allow the rice to cool for 10 minutes.  Divide the rice in half and place in separate bowls.

Add vegetable oil into a 13×9 inch pan and use a paper towel to spread the oil and wipe up any excess.  Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of the sesame seeds into the bottom of the pan.

Take spoonfuls of the rice and place into the pan using up the first batch of rice.  With your hands, spread and firmly press the rice into the pan.  Add the filling and spread evenly over the rice.  Add the second batch of rice as was done previously.  Again, spread and press the rice, covering the mung bean filling.  Sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes.

To serve, cut the cake into medium-sized pieces and enjoy!

Store any remaining cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months to enjoy later.

Yields:  13×9 inch pan, approximately 20 pieces

Use cookie cutters and these cute food storage bags to make a healthy snack for your kids.
Who wouldn’t love finding one of these tasty treats in their lunchbox?


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Vodka 5-Spice Marinade (Ruou Thom)

Vodka 5-Spices Marinade | recipe from runawayrice.comThis 5-spice marinade is an easy to make, must-have seasoning.  It works wonderfully with all types of meats and seafood.  Add a splash to noodles and veggie stir-frys to perk up the flavors.  I love the fragrant yet subtle taste.  Go ahead and make a few extra bottles and give them to your family and friends.  They will love it!

Check out these yummy recipes using the Vodka 5-Spice Marinade:

Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs (Suon Nuong)

Roast Duck (Vit Quay)
Grilled Pork Patties and Skewers (Thit Nuong)
Grilled Pork Sandwich (Banh Mi Thit Nuong)
Sizzling Shaken Beef (Bo Luc Lac)
Savory and Sweet Sautéed Chicken

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce (Traditional Recipe) (Nuoc Mam Cham) and Caramel Sauce (Nuoc Mau).


2 cups vodka
1 tangerine
1 cinnamon stick
5 star anise
10 cloves
20 peppercorns


Peel the skin from the tangerine and place by a sunny window.  Allow the skin to dry for a day.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add all spices and toast in pan for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Take a 3×3 inch section of the tangerine skin and cut into thin strips. Pour vodka into a glass bottle filling it almost to the top.  Drop in the tangerine strips and toasted spices. Fill the bottle to the top with vodka and securely seal with a cap.

Allow the spices to infuse in the vodka for at least 30 days.

Store the marinade in your cupboard for no longer than 1 year.

Yields:  2 cups

The Essential Asian Five Spices | recipe from






Vodka 5-Spices Marinade | recipe from
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