September 4, 2012

Homemade Chicken Pho--Free of the Top 8

Yay!  Labor Day has arrived, which means three whole mornings of sleeping in and letting the chaos ensue.  But still.  Three whole mornings.

Boo...I've seemed to have contracted a stomach bug that latched on at around 1 am, and is relentless.  Argh.  Even more reason to get some extra sleep this weekend.

With this crazy weather we've had for the past week, 70's blue sky, followed by days of 50's high temps, in combination with this weak stomach, I decided to try out my cousin's chicken pho recipe.  My latest obsession, chicken pho from Turtle Tower, has been my go-to take-out meal for the past several months.  Delicious broth, slippery rice noodles, juicy chicken, topped with cilantro, green onions, and bean can you go wrong?

Well, the fact remains that most Asian restaurants in the City cook with MSG.  Once, I had dared ask a server at a local Vietnamese restaurant if their pho had MSG, and he responded with a chuckle, "Of course."  OK not so bad once in a while unless your daughter drinks pho broth through a straw and calls it a meal.

Ky-Yen's brother, Ky-Wai, passed this recipe along to her and it is apparently a fan favorite at his house among his triplets.  Yes, I said triplets.  Not only that, Ky-Wai is a classically trained chef. 

How can you not try this recipe?

It's a very easy recipe, with the hardest part being finding the MSG-free pho spice bag that Ky-Yen uses in the recipe.  I checked a few Clement St. shops, and they didn't have it (or at least I didn't see it), so I ventured across the park to Sunset Super on Irving St. to find it.  I am wondering if they also carry it at the bigger Asian markets like 99 Ranch.

Here is, simply, the recipe Ky-Yen sent me.  Mine is cooking on the stove right now, and I must say, it smells authentically Vietnamese in our house right now.  Aw yeah.  Would be perfect with Irene's latest find from TJ's--fresh rice noodles.

Ky-Wai's Chicken Pho (free of the top 8 allergens)
Broth Ingredients
1 Chicken
1 Head of Garlic (leave whole in jacket, cut off tip about 1/4 inch)
Ginger (sliced)
Onion (cut in half)
Scallion (leave who, trim bottom)
Pho Spice
Pho Spice, available at Sunset Super, contains cloves, fennel, and star anise--NO MSG!!!
Lime Zest
Add enough water to cover chicken

Other Ingredients
Noodles, like Pho rice noodles, soba noodles, or any other allergy-friendly noodles
Fish sauce (optional, contains fish)

Topping Extras
Bean Sprouts
Chopped Cilantro
Chopped Scallions
Thai Basil
Lemon Juice
Sliced and Seeded Jalapenos

1. Cook the broth ingredients for 1 hour in a large pot.

I made it with two yellow chickens from the Asian market.  They have less meat but are also known to be less fatty and more flavorful.
2. Drain, and set aside chicken on a plate, saving the broth in the pot.  Compost the spice bag, garlic, ginger, scallion, and onion.
3. Finish with salt and fish sauce (omit fish sauce if allergic)
4. Cook noodles according to bag directions.  I used fresh pho noodles, but there are lots of alternatives based on taste and allergies.
5. Shred chicken meat.
6. Add noodles, broth, and shredded chicken to a bowl.  Garnish with desired toppings, like bean sprouts, chopped cilantro and scallions, Thai basil, lemon juice, and sliced and seeded jalapenos. 

The fine art of slurping your noodles. 
Most little girls would not wear a party dress to eat their pho, but the broth smelled so good the kids came running to the table, and this one refused to change out of her dress.
Hoping everyone had a relaxing Labor Day weekend!  Back to the grind...


  1. Cute pics of the kids and mahalo plenty for sharing this recipe! Pinned it.

  2. Your blog is really very nice informative and thorough. I read the blogs each time they are sent.
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