Chicken Pho Recipe

Vietnamese pho noodle soup | Louno Morose

Vietnam’s culinary landscape is a tapestry woven with vibrant flavors, harmonious blends of fresh herbs, and a rich cultural heritage. From the bustling streets of Hanoi to the serene landscapes of the Mekong Delta, Vietnamese cuisine captivates the senses with its unique and delectable offerings. At the heart of this gastronomic journey lies a beloved dish that has transcended borders and captured the hearts of food enthusiasts worldwide: pho.

What is pho and its cultural significance

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a nourishing and aromatic noodle soup that embodies the essence of Vietnamese cuisine. More than just a dish, it is a cultural touchstone, a comforting embrace of tradition passed down through generations. This iconic meal holds a special place in the hearts of Vietnamese people, serving as a symbol of their resilience, adaptability, and unwavering pride in their culinary heritage.

History of pho

The origins of pho can be traced back to the early 20th century when Vietnam was under French colonial rule. It is believed that the dish evolved from a fusion of Chinese and French culinary influences, with the addition of local ingredients and flavors. As the years passed, pho became deeply ingrained in Vietnamese culture, transcending social and economic boundaries to become a beloved national treasure.

Ingredients used in pho

The foundation of a truly exceptional pho lies in the harmonious blend of carefully selected ingredients. At its core, pho features a rich and fragrant broth, typically made from beef or chicken bones simmered for hours with aromatic spices like star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. Thin rice noodles, known as banh pho, are the traditional accompaniment, cooked to perfection and submerged in the flavorful broth.

The true magic of pho, however, lies in the array of fresh herbs and garnishes that elevate the dish to new heights. Cilantro, Thai basil, bean sprouts, and lime wedges add bursts of freshness and vibrancy, allowing diners to customize their bowls to their personal preferences.

Chicken pho recipe – step-by-step guide

Crafting an authentic and delectable chicken pho at home is an art form that requires patience, attention to detail, and a deep appreciation for the flavors of Vietnam. Follow this step-by-step guide to embark on a culinary adventure that will transport your taste buds to the vibrant streets of Hanoi.


  • 2 lbs (900g) chicken bones (wings, backs, and/or carcasses)
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 4 inches (10cm) ginger, sliced
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 8 cups (2L) water
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz (225g) banh pho (rice noodles)
  • Toppings: sliced chicken, bean sprouts, cilantro, lime wedges, Thai basil, sliced green onions, and chili sauce (optional)


  1. Prepare the broth:
    • Place the chicken bones, onion, ginger, cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds in a large pot.
    • Cover with water and bring to a boil.
    • Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, skimming off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface.
    • Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids.
    • Season the broth with fish sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.
  2. Cook the noodles:
    • Bring a separate pot of water to a boil.
    • Add the banh pho noodles and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
    • Drain and rinse the noodles under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Assemble the bowls:
    • Divide the cooked noodles among serving bowls.
    • Ladle the hot broth over the noodles.
    • Top with sliced chicken, bean sprouts, cilantro, lime wedges, Thai basil, sliced green onions, and a drizzle of chili sauce (if desired).
  4. Serve and enjoy:
    • Encourage your guests to customize their bowls by adding more herbs, lime juice, or chili sauce to their liking.
    • Savor the rich and aromatic flavors of this authentic Vietnamese delicacy.

Tips for making the perfect pho broth

While the ingredients are essential, the true secret to a remarkable pho lies in the preparation of the broth. Here are some invaluable tips to help you achieve a depth of flavor that will transport you straight to the streets of Vietnam:

  1. Use high-quality bones: The foundation of a great pho broth starts with the bones. Opt for a combination of chicken wings, backs, and carcasses for maximum flavor extraction.
  2. Char the aromatics: Before adding the aromatics (onion, ginger, and spices) to the broth, char them over an open flame or in a dry pan. This process adds a smoky depth and complexity to the broth.
  3. Simmer patiently: Patience is key when it comes to extracting the full flavor from the bones and aromatics. Simmer the broth for at least 2-3 hours, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface.
  4. Use a spice sachet: To easily remove the whole spices from the broth, tie them in a cheesecloth or spice sachet. This prevents the flavors from becoming overpowering and allows for easy removal.
  5. Season to perfection: Once the broth has simmered and been strained, taste and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper until the flavors are perfectly balanced.

Variations of pho recipes

While chicken pho is a beloved classic, the versatility of this dish allows for endless variations to suit every palate. Here are a few tantalizing twists on the traditional pho recipe:

  • Beef pho: Substitute beef bones and slices of rare beef for the chicken, creating a rich and savory broth that is a staple in many Vietnamese households.
  • Vegetarian pho: Omit the meat and use a combination of vegetable broth, mushrooms, and tofu for a plant-based version that is equally satisfying.
  • Seafood pho: Incorporate shrimp, squid, or fish for a seafood twist that adds a delightful oceanic essence to the broth.
  • Regional variations: Explore the regional nuances of pho by experimenting with different herbs, spices, and garnishes inspired by the diverse culinary landscapes of Vietnam.

Health benefits of pho

Beyond its captivating flavors, pho offers a wealth of nutritional benefits that make it a nourishing and satisfying meal choice:

  1. Protein-packed: Both chicken and beef pho varieties are rich in lean protein, essential for building and repairing tissues, as well as supporting a healthy metabolism.
  2. Nutrient-dense broth: The slow-simmered broth is a powerhouse of minerals and vitamins, including iron, zinc, and B vitamins, which contribute to overall well-being.
  3. Hydrating properties: The broth’s high water content helps keep the body hydrated, making pho an excellent choice for replenishing fluids and electrolytes.
  4. Low in calories: When prepared with lean proteins and an abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables, pho can be a low-calorie yet satisfying meal option.
  5. Gut-friendly: The combination of bone broth and fresh herbs in pho may aid in promoting a healthy gut microbiome and supporting digestive health.

Where to find authentic pho in Vietnam

While recreating the perfect pho at home is a rewarding experience, nothing quite compares to savoring this iconic dish in the land of its origin. Vietnam is a pho lover’s paradise, with countless establishments serving up their unique interpretations of this beloved soup. Here are some of the most renowned destinations for authentic pho in Vietnam:

  • Pho Thin (Hanoi): Nestled in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, this unassuming eatery has been serving up steaming bowls of pho for over 70 years, attracting locals and tourists alike.
  • Pho Hoa (Ho Chi Minh City): Established in the 1950s, this legendary pho joint in Saigon is renowned for its rich, flavorful broth and perfectly cooked noodles.
  • Pho Bat Dan (Hue): In the ancient city of Hue, Pho Bat Dan offers a unique twist on the classic dish, featuring a spicy and aromatic broth infused with lemongrass and chili.
  • Pho Binh (Nha Trang): Located in the coastal city of Nha Trang, this eatery is famous for its seafood-infused pho, showcasing the region’s bountiful marine offerings.

Embark on a culinary adventure by exploring the vibrant flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Discover the perfect pho recipe and transport your taste buds to the bustling streets of Hanoi or Saigon. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage and savor the comforting aromas that will have you craving for more. Why wait? Gather your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and let the journey begin. Invite your friends and family to join you in this flavorful exploration, and create cherished memories around the shared love for authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

Enjoying the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine

Pho is more than just a dish; it is a gateway to the rich tapestry of Vietnamese culture, a celebration of tradition, and a testament to the resilience and creativity of its people. Whether you choose to recreate this iconic soup in your own kitchen or embark on a culinary pilgrimage to Vietnam, the experience of savoring pho is a journey that transcends mere sustenance.

As you slurp the aromatic broth, savor the perfectly cooked noodles, and relish the fresh bursts of flavor from the herbs and garnishes, you’ll find yourself transported to the vibrant streets of Vietnam. Each bite is a celebration of the country’s diverse culinary heritage, a harmonious fusion of flavors that have stood the test of time.

So, embrace the adventure, and let the tantalizing aromas of pho guide you on a flavorful journey through the heart of Vietnamese cuisine. Discover the perfect balance of tradition and innovation, and savor the comforting embrace of a dish that has captured the hearts and palates of food lovers worldwide.

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