Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup (Pho Ga) is one of the classic dishes of Northern Vietnamese cuisine. Light yet flavorful, simple yet sophisticated, this fragrant noodle soup can warm your heart and soul.
• 1 (3-pound) whole chicken
• 6 whole scallions
• 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, crushed
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 3 quarts chicken stock
• Fish sauce, for seasoning
• 1 (16-ounce) package dried rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
• 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
• 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1½ cups)
• Thai basil sprigs
• Mung bean sprouts
• Limes, cut into wedges
• Jalapeño chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced into rings Serves 6
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken, scallions, ginger, and salt and boil for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot and let stand for 15 minutes. If your chicken is larger than 3 pounds, let stand 10 minutes longer.
2. Just before the chicken is ready, prepare a large ice-water bath. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot (discarding the cooking liquid) and immediately submerge it in the ice-water bath, which will stop the cooking and give the meat a firmer texture. Let stand 20 minutes, until the chicken is cool enough to handle easily, remove from the water, and pat dry. Pull the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Shred the meat with your fingers; you should have about 4 cups. (This step can be done a day ahead.)
3. In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Taste for seasoning and add fish sauce, if needed.
4. To ready the garnishes, arrange the basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and chiles on a platter and place on the table.
5. Divide the rice noodles evenly among warmed soup bowls. Top each serving with about ¾ cup of the shredded chicken, then divide the scallions and cilantro evenly among the bowls. Ladle the hot stock over the top, dividing it evenly, and sprinkle with the fried shallots. Serve immediately, accompanied with the platter of garnishes.