Who doesn't love a good chicken noodle soup from any cultural tradition??!! It's just so comforting and warming and goes down easily when you're sick or when you're spanking healthy.
While I have many memories of my mom making a pot of pho bo (beef), I don't remember her making much pho ga. Instead, she often used homemade chicken broth as a base for chao (rice porridge).
Since I had another bag of fresh pho noodles (banh pho tuoi), I decided to attempt pho ga at home. BTW, my mom told me she bought these from Lion Market in San Jose, CA (possibly the freezer section). I modified a recipe from Authentic Vietnamese Cooking by Corinne Trang. Photo of my bowl is below. It wasn't as good as my last pho bo (linked below), but still good. See my questions for perfecting below.
What I did: Butcher a whole chicken into 8 pieces and keep all bones. Remove most of skin. Rub a little S&P on chicken and allow to briefly marinate while you prep other ingredients. Char a 2" piece ginger w/ skin on. Rotate over gas flame til outside is blackened. Cool for min. and then peel w/ spoon. Slice into a few rounds and bruise to release juices.
In stockpot, add a tsp. of canola oil over med. heat. Saute quartered onion and two cloves garlic til tan and fragrant. Deglaze w/ a little shao xing (not traditional but I like it!). Add ginger, 3 scallions that have been bruised, 4 peppercorns, bay leaf, and chicken. Cover w/ about 5 qts. water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to barest simmer, and skim off any foam. Leave uncovered.
After 30 min., remove breast meat and return any bone. After another 15 min., remove leg and thigh meat and return any bone. Skim off any foam or fat. Let simmer for another 1 hr. 45 min. Taste and then slowly season w/ salt, fish sauce, pinch sugar if desired, and wonton soup base if desired. Add each slowly so that you can refine by taste. I didn't plan on using the soup base for this version, but felt something missing when it wasn't in yet.
Gently simmer for another 30 min. (this is 3 hrs. total) and adjust seasoning if necessary. The broth will have reduced to about 3-4 qts. During that time, prepare the noodles, meat, and condiments. Plunge noodles into boiling water for a sec., rinse, and nest into bowls. Tear the reserved meat into large chunks and place atop noodles. Chop scallions and cilantro. Make pickled onions if desired. Pour boiling broth over noodles and meat and add garnishes (lime, mint, sriracha, etc) at table.
While the broth was delicious and drinkable to the last drop, I thought that it was missing something. I actually was really missing the star anise flavor, but I believe that star anise or clove isn't really used in pho ga. Thoughts? Should I have used more ginger? Any other tips for improving?