How to Make Vietnamese Chicken Pho

San Francisco's Turtle Tower restaurant shares its secret recipe for Vietnamese chicken pho.


By Omar Mamoon, Esquire

One sure-fire way to find good food in any city is by asking its chefs what they eat. Ask around San Francisco, and that dish is the chicken pho at Turtle Tower. "I've eaten their pho like 900 times," says Chef Christopher Kronner of the eponymous Kronnerburger. "It's a clean broth." Chef Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats visits Turtle Tower on special mornings: "It's one of the best breakfasts out there, especially if you're hungover."

[post_ads]Turtle Tower, a small, family-owned restaurant that specializes in Hanoi-style northern Vietnamese cuisine, was opened in 2000 by Steven Pham, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1991 from a refugee camp in Hong Kong. He learned to make pho ga (chicken pho) from his mother in Vietnam. Unlike pho from Saigon in the south of Vietnam, Pham doesn't use basil, bean sprouts, or hoisin to garnish his bowl; the beauty is in the pho's simplicity. As Chef Evan Rich, chef/owner of Rich Table says, "It's a very familiar and comforting flavor that you can add complexity to with jalapeño and fish sauce."

Here, Pham's recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, 3 lbs.
  • 2 lb. chicken carcass (ask your butcher for it)
  • 6 qt. Water
  • 2 oz. salt
  • 1/2 oz. MSG*
  • 1/2 lb. shallots
  • 1/4 lb. ginger
  • 1/4 c. fish sauce (i.e. Three Crabs brand)
Serve with, to taste:
  • wide rice noodles (banh pho)
  • chopped cilantro
  • thinly sliced green onion
  • thinly sliced jalapeños
  • lemon wedges
  • Sriracha
  • black pepper
  • fish sauce
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Directions
  1. Place chicken and chicken carcass along with the salt and MSG into a large pot, then add water. Place on stove, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium-low and let simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 45 minutes).
  2. Remove chicken from the pot and let cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, char the shallots and ginger on the stovetop until black and burned. Once cool, remove as much of the blackened skin as possible.
  4. Once chicken is completely cool, remove the meat from the bones and set aside. Return the chicken carcass and bones back to the pot and simmer for 3 to 5 hours (it’ll be ready at 3, but better at 5).
  5. Stir in fish sauce, and add more to taste if necessary.
To Serve:
Place cooked rice noodles in a bowl, top with a small handful of chicken, and add as much chopped cilantro and green onion as you’d like. Ladle in the broth, and add slices of jalapeño for heat if desired.
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You can also serve sides of Sriracha or a mixture of lemon, black pepper, and fish sauce—but do not add these directly to the broth. Simply use as a dip for the chicken and noodles, and enjoy.
    
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Recipe Magazine: How to Make Vietnamese Chicken Pho
How to Make Vietnamese Chicken Pho
San Francisco's Turtle Tower restaurant shares its secret recipe for Vietnamese chicken pho.
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