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Mains, Pasta/Noodles, Stovetop

Chicken pho noodle salad (phở gà trộn)

Chicken pho noodle salad (phở gà trộn)
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Pho noodle soup has been around for over 100 years. It’s iconic to people who identify with it as Vietnam’s national food, but for those who’ve recently tried the steamy bowls of rice noodles, thinly sliced meat, and gently spiced ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes | Serves 4 as a light main course

Quick chicken pho broth

  • 3⁄4-inch piece ginger
  • 2 medium-large green onions
  • 1 very small (1/2-ounce) bunch cilantro sprigs
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 whole clove
  • 3 1⁄2 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • About 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • About 1⁄2 teaspoon organic sugar, or 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
  • Pepper (optional)

Step 1Peel then slice the ginger into 4 or 5 coins. Smack with the flat side of a knife or meat mallet and set aside. Thinly slice the green parts of the green onion to yield 2 to 3 tablespoons, and set aside to use as a garnish in the final dish. Cut the leftover sections into 2- to 3-inch lengths, bruise, then add to the ginger.

Step 2Coarsely chop the leafy tops of the cilantro to yield 2 tablespoons; set aside to use as a garnish. Set the remaining cilantro sprigs aside.

Step 3In a 3- to 4-quart pot, toast the coriander seeds and clove over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger and bruised green onion sections. Stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

Step 4Remove the pot from heat for about 15 seconds to briefly cool, then pour in the broth. Add the water, cilantro sprigs, chicken, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to gently simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 5After 5 to 10 minutes of simmering, the chicken should be firm and cooked through (press on it and it should slightly yield). Transfer the chicken to a bowl, flush with cold water to stop the cooking, then drain. Cover loosely so the chicken does not dry out.

Step 6When the broth is done simmering, strain it through a fine-mesh strainer into a 2-quart (2-liter) pot; line the strainer with muslin for superclear broth. Discard the solids. You should have about 4 cups broth. Season with fish sauce and sugar, if needed, to create a strong savory-sweet note.

Chicken pho noodle salad

  • cups Quick Chicken Pho broth, divided
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 1⁄2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons regular soy sauce
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
  • 10 ounces dried medium flat rice noodles
  • About 12 ounces cooked chicken from Quick Chicken Pho
  • Thinly sliced green onions (reserved from Quick Chicken Pho broth), for garnish
  • 2 cups butter lettuce or soft leaf lettuce, cut into narrow ribbons, with spines intact
  • 1⁄4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, leafy tops only
  • 1⁄3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint or Thai basil leaves
  • 1⁄3 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1⁄3 cup fried shallots or onion, homemade or purchased

Step 1Combine 1⁄2 cup of the broth with the salt, sugar, chile sauce, vinegar and soy sauce. Set this sauce mixture near the stove.

Step 2Put the oil and the garlic in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the garlic sizzles and is light blond, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat for about 15 seconds to cool slightly, then add the sauce mixture. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir the cornstarch slurry, then swirl into the bubbly sauce. Once thickened, about 15 seconds, remove from heat and set aside for at least 10 minutes before using. This makes about 1/2 cup sauce.

Step 3Meanwhile, boil the noodles in a pot of water until tender chewy following the package instructions, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain, cool quickly under running water, then set aside to fully drain and cool.

Step 4Reheat the remaining broth in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut or shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and, if needed, warm in a microwave oven to remove the chill and refresh; ideally the chicken has some succulence. Set aside.

Step 5To assemble, have 4 rice bowls for broth and 4 noodle-soup-size bowls for the salad. Put a little green onion into each rice bowl (use the rest for the noodle salad). Set near the broth.

Step 6Divide the lettuce among the noodle soup bowls. Add a portion of noodles and chicken, then drizzle over the sauce to taste. Top with the remaining green onion, cilantro, mint (or basil), peanut, and fried shallots (or onion).

Step 7Ladle the hot broth into the rice bowls. Serve immediately with the noodle salad bowls. Invite guests to wield spoons and chopsticks to toss their salads and enjoy the broth as soothing interludes. If the noodles seem too heavy with sauce, mix in a spoonful of broth. Offer extra chile sauce to heat seekers.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in Andrea Nguyen’s upcoming “The Pho Cookbook.”


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