DC#6: Pho Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

by Jenn on October 13, 2009

in Dairy Free,Daring Kitchen,Gluten Free,Meats,Soups


The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.  I was so excited to hear that Jaden was hosting this month’s challenge, I instantly became a fan of hers after making a fantastic super easy three cheese soufflé a couple weeks ago that came out awesome.  She presented to us not one, but two awesome challenges for this month.  The first was this one – pho ga, or Vietnamese chicken noodle soup.  This was my first venture into Vietnamese cuisine, and I instantly realized how sad a thing it is that I have waited this long to make Vietnamese food.

The recipe for pho ga was pretty straightforward, but a few twists were added for the Daring Cooks’ challenge.  Most DC challenges offer a lot of room for freedom and creativity, however this recipe was very specific.  Even the spices had to be followed to the letter.  The one technique that was absolutely required that was not explicitly a part of this recipe though was toasting the spices.  I LOVED the spices in this broth.  The star anise, cloves, and coriander, once toasted, offered a fragrant warmth and complexity to the broth in a combination my taste buds had not embraced before.  Toasting was actually pretty easy – all that is needed is to heat spices on a hot pan for a few minutes until they brown and become fragrant.


I really think that the key to this broth is the slow simmering of the broth with the chicken, toasted spices, and char-broiled ginger and onion.  The combination is just heavenly.  A little bit of sugar (or diabetic friendly erythritol) and the broth is perfect.  I did make a few changes – I used chicken broth rather than water, subbed the hoisin sauce in order to be gluten free, and also used fennel with the veggies for the soup.  I thought the fennel would be a great addition given the licorice flavor that would match the star anise well.  I also just added the rice noodles directly to the broth rather than cook them separately, that way they could absorb some of the broth flavors – to be diabetic friendly, my mom just did not eat any of the noodles, which was easy enough to do.

Overall, the dish was a great success!



Jaden October 14, 2009 at 12:31 am

Oh it’s beautiful! Love the colors, the freshness….

Cate October 14, 2009 at 12:33 am

This is one of my absolute favorite Vietnamese dishes. Beautiful job!

Syrup magazine October 14, 2009 at 12:34 am

That looks so good! Awesome flavours too

Amy I. October 14, 2009 at 12:50 am

Your photos are stunning, and the pho looks great! This one was definitely a winner all around.

ravenouscouple October 14, 2009 at 5:55 am

this looks great!but just curious why cinnamon isn’t used?

Jenn October 14, 2009 at 8:02 am

Thanks. Cinnamon was the one thing my Vietnamese friend said was missing from it as well. Next time I make this (because there will definitely be a next time, it tasted great!), I think I will toast some cinnamon along with the other spices. My first guess is that Jaden didn’t want to use too many ingredients in order to make this more approachable to a wider variety of cooks, but you would have to ask her…

Charli October 14, 2009 at 8:34 am

That does look great! I know what you mean about waiting way to long to venture into Vietnamese food!

Karen October 14, 2009 at 9:26 am

I love your adorable bowl! How awesome was this challenge – I love my pho :) Good job!

Sandicue October 14, 2009 at 9:50 am

Wow thanks Jenn, I love the flavors ..that’s what makes this so good,

Ariane October 14, 2009 at 9:59 am

Looks great! I will have to try this version. One of my Vietnamese friends and I make Pho Tai (with beef) and the marrow is key to flavor – If I go to the grocery store early in the morning, I can sometimes get just bones. The only thing I do differently is to add the fish sauce right at the end so I don’t smell up my kitchen :-)

Jayle October 14, 2009 at 11:41 am

Love your photos! Just beautiful…nice work!

Woman with a Whisk October 14, 2009 at 11:47 am

Beautiful colors! And great idea to add fennel to compliment the star anise.

Olga October 14, 2009 at 11:49 am

Totally agree with you that this dish was a success! One of the best challenges so far.

Basht October 14, 2009 at 1:23 pm

looks like it turned out beautifully

Almost Slowfood October 14, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Your pics are amazing! Didn’t you just love this challenge?

chef_d October 14, 2009 at 1:33 pm

wow beautiful looking pho, it made me hungry just by looking :)

Margaret October 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm

That beautiful bowl full of delicous pho looks amazing.

Linda October 14, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Your pho is lovely. I love how the pho combines all the flavors into something really unique.

Simone (junglefrog) October 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm

This dish was indeed a winner! I loved the recipe and it was so easy to make. Your Pho looks absolutely beautiful. Beautiful photo too..:)

Frenchie October 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

I am so glad you had fun with this challenge. The cilantro perched on your bowl of pho looks to beautiful, the bright green makes it look fresh and appetizing. Good job on the challenge.

Margie October 14, 2009 at 7:28 pm

I agree the combination of flavors in the broth was heavenly. Your pho looks heavenly too!

Winnie October 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Lovely looking pho- we have the same bowls and I took a similar pic of the toasted spices!
Beautiful job with the challenge!

Jenni October 14, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Great job! Your pho looks great!

pia (taga_luto) October 14, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Your shots are beautiful. It’s never too late to become pho-natics like us! LOL! see what Jaden started w/ all her PHO words.

Robert October 14, 2009 at 11:59 pm

I think the addition of fennel to the dish at the end with the other veggies is an excellent idea. It looks like many of us bucked tradition and used the broth to cook the noodles.

Cathy/ShowFoodChef October 15, 2009 at 12:48 am

Just beautiful and creative WonTons, also! Thank you, too, for being so generous to visit my blog and leave comments. Your pics are inspiring.

Bake in Paris October 15, 2009 at 2:51 am

Photo is fabulous! And pho looks delicious!


art and lemons October 15, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Gorgeous photos and pho!

Valérie October 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Your pho is lovely! I’m glad you enjoyed the challenge!

Lisa October 18, 2009 at 5:40 am

Jenn, Jenn, Jenn..your Pho is beautiful..and the photos showcase how mouth watering it turned out, BUT MY GOD, your apple, cheesecake, cinnamon wontons have blown me away completely. I just about died when I saw them. WTG on a challenge completely rocked!

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