Good Morning Vietnam!

It really is morning here in Vietnam, so in this case use of this cliche line is appropriate, and it is absolutely beautiful here on the lagoon where we are staying near Hue.

The fishing boats wake me up at 4:30AM with their putt-putt-putting and the swooshing of their net very near to our bedroom. I don’t mind at all. The sun is a glowing orb of red, typical of this part of the world and we enjoy being awake when it rises over the mountains in the distance.

Vietnam is an amazing country. The people are friendly and humorous and they work incredibly hard everyday. The landscape is magical and the history is fascinating. I feel I’ll never want to leave.

Naturally one of the biggest parts of this adventure is the food. Vietnamese has been a favourite of mine for many years, being a staple in Seattle and an slight obsession of my step-dad, but eating the real deal here surpasses any expectations I could ever have dreamed up.

I plan to write more posts about Vietnam and the fabulous food adventure I am having here because my obsession just got deeper!

Let’s start wish breakfast, a steaming bowl of Pho Ga ( said Ph-oa G-ah).

There is something so satisfying about rice noodles in clear broth. It’s the chicken noodle soup of Vietnam but for breakfast, so it really clears your head and mind for the day (and your sinuses, depending on how many chillies you add).

So here is the rundown for Pho – it’s like any culture’s chicken soup: your mom makes it best, your grandma even better; it starts with great stock; it makes you feel better even if you feel good; it’s comforting; it’s pretty cheap to make.

This recipe can be adapted to your taste. I learned to make a better version than I have before at a fabulous cooking school near Hoi An.

PHO GA

(Chicken Pho)

INGREDIENTS

For the broth
1kg chicken carcasses, fat grilled off
1 white onion, 2 shallots and a big chunk of ginger, grilled
2 stalks lemongrass
2 sticks cinnamon
2 star anise
1 cardamom pod
1tsp each sugar and salt
cold water, large pinches of salt and black peppercorns

For the pickle
100ml white vinegar
2 shallots, sliced
1 green chilli, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 red chilli, sliced
1tsp sugar
1/2tsp salt

For the soup
2 chicken breasts, poached
1 onion, finely sliced
200g beansprouts

For the garnish
4 spring onions, sliced
1 red chilli, finely sliced
2 limes, wedged
Handfuls of coriander, mint, basil mint, Asian basil or basil, leaves picked off

METHOD

Bring bones and water to a boil then pour in cold water and skim off fat, and top with warm water. Add grilled ingredients and simmer for at least 4 hours, better overnight.  Pass through a sieve and poach chicken breast in the broth. Shred chicken breasts and set aside.

Layer bean sprouts, sliced onions and shredded poached chicken into the bottom of a bowl.

Pour over very hot stock. This will warm the ingredients and the ingredients will cool the stock down so it’s instantly ready to eat.

Garnish with mint, basil mint, Asian basil, Spring onions and red chilli slices.

Squeeze over the lime and drizzle pickle to taste.

The broth should be clear with a few small fat droplets and taste spicy and tangy.

Wake up sunshine, it’s time to see the world. Cảm ơn! (That’s ‘thank you’ in Vietnamese)

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