Pho-ish Chicken

‾‾Our daughter, Sara, just got back from a 10-day trip to Vietnam. According to her, one of the highlights of the trip was a boat ride through the fascinating and lovely Mekong Delta. Now I know I’m going to really date myself here, but I’m of the generation that has trouble not thinking of the Mekong Delta as the place where John Kerry commanded a Swift boat, patrolling those waterways and seeking out “hostile forces” and getting shot at. What a joy to think it’s now a much-heralded spot to visit.

Anyway, after hearing Sara rave about that fabulous food of Vietnam, I’m determined to make some for Andy and me. I love Sara’s Banh Mi recipe from her Picnics cookbook (shameless pitch), but I want soup on this chilly day, not a sandwich. We love beef Pho but have never tried chicken Pho, so here we go. I got my ideas from a Smitten Kitchen post and she got her ideas from Charles Phan of SF’s Slanted Door. And I also used ideas from a blog by Nadia Lim.

Pho-ish Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

This is a very simplified way to fix a Chicken Pho (pronounced Fuh, not Pho. It rhymes with Duh, not Dough. Obviously, homemade chicken stock is better, but we're in a hurry.


  • 2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
  • 1 ½” piece of ginger, cut into 3 pieces and smashed
  • 6-8 c good quality chicken broth or stock
  • 3 whole star anise
  • ½ cinnamon stick (about 3”)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used Mary’s chicken – 7 thighs were in a pound, but the only reason that matters is that the cooking time might need to be increased with bigger thighs).
  • 1 T (or to taste) fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
  • 8 oz thin dried rice noodles, cooked according to package directions

Garnishes: Your choice of sliced green onions, bean sprouts, torn basil leaves (Thai basil is perfect but regular works too), chopped cilantro leaves, thinly sliced jalapenos.

Definitely serve with quartered limes and sriracha sauce and/or hoisin sauce


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a pan with aluminum foil, place the onions, cut side down, and the ginger on the foil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Rinse the onions to cool and then peel off outer layer and cut off tops and bottoms.   Add the onions and the ginger to the chicken broth. Add the anise, cinnamon, coriander, and sugar, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon or small strainer, remove the chunky things from the broth. Add the chicken thighs to the strained broth and simmer for another 15 -20 minutes or until the thighs are just cooked. Remove the thighs and either cut up or shred with forks. Add the cooked rice noodles and half of the cooked thighs back into the broth; save the remainder of the chicken for a Banh Mi sandwich.  Freeze leftover Pho for another day.

Recipe provided by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann

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