I’m launching my favorite recipe series with chicken pho noodle soup (pho ga) from scratch.
I will be sharing the sort of food I eat to stay in shape over 40 without having to starve myself or eat boring food.
Interestingly, I’d never heard of pho until I moved to North America in 2019.
I was walking past a Vietnamese restaurant and remembered my friend posted a picture on Facebook earlier.
I walked in and ordered chicken pho and I’ve been in love ever since.
However, in the wake of lockdown, my fussy palate, and resolution to make all my meals this year, I decided to cook it myself.
Very brave venture indeed considering the monumental process preparing pho ga is but I was ready for it.
There’s a handy recipe card at the end if you want to print it out and keep to try later on.
What is Pho Ga?
Pho ga is a traditional Vietnamese soup made out of chicken stock, vegetables, spices, and lots of love.
The soup itself is named pho and variations of it are named after the main ingredient.
The most popular variation is pho bo (beef) but I’m not a big fan of beef so I defaulted to the chicken version.
Pho ga is much easier to make from scratch than pho ba. There’s also the vegetarian option, pho chay.
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How Do You Pronounce Pho Ga?
I realized I’d been pronouncing this incorrectly when I looked it up.
I’ve been pronouncing it exactly as it sounds. Apparently, it’s pronounced “fuh gah”
Is Pho Ga Healthy?
Anytime I start liking a dish a little too much, the first thing I do is look up the nutrition profile before I get addicted to a calorie bomb.
After my successful attempt, I went and did a little bit of research on pho ga nutrition and how healthy it is. Or not.
Pho has a high content of vitamin A and C, calcium, and iron while the toppings pack plenty of fiber.
However, it also has a very high sodium content and too much sodium in your diet can lead to several health issues.
To summarize, it doesn’t suck but it’s not 100% healthy either so I made the following modifications to make it healthier:-
- Homemade chicken broth
- Eliminated soy sauce and oil
- Reduced salt to absolute minimum
- Replaced white sugar with brown sugar
- Used a smaller serving bowl (portion control)
- Minimal fish sauce
- Used lean chicken meat (breast)
- A little bit of sriracha (this one was hard because I loveeeeeeeeeee sriracha)
- Loads of veggie toppings. More veggies than chicken
You can also swap the regular vermicelli rice noodles with Shirataki Noodles if you want to make the dish more keto-friendly.
I was all set to eat it every few days until further notice but I guess I have to dial it down to no more than every forth-night or so.
How To Eat Pho Ga
I use chopsticks and a nice big fat spoon for slurping that delicious clear soup.
When I’ve finished plating, I use the chopsticks to stir the toppings and chicken into the soup then dig in.
Traditionally, I believe the veggies are served separately and you help yourself to what you want.
How Many Calories in Pho Ga?
This depends on the ingredients and protein used but an average cup should come out to less than 200 calories which isn’t bad.
If you’re serving in a bowl instead of a cup, it would work out to be an average of 250 — 450 calories depending on the size of the bowl.
Make Pho Ga at Home
Pho ga is made in two steps. The first step involves the chicken stock while the second step involves cooking the soup.
A lot of people use store-bought chicken stock but I prefer fresh stock so I didn’t mind the extra time involved in preparing it.
I just make it the day before and keep it in the fridge until it’s time to put the soup together.
Pho Ga Stock Preparation
- Chicken breast – I prefer the leanness of chicken breast but I guess you can use other parts of the chicken if you like.
- Veggies – carrot, scallions, onions, celery, and ginger.
- Spices – salt, black pepper, and cinnamon stick.
The good thing about making my own chicken stock is I make a large amount so I have enough to make pho ga 3 – 4 more times.
I just freeze it until the rotation comes up in my meal plan again.
Pho Ga Soup Preparation
For the soup itself, my favorite ingredients to use include:-
- Chicken stock
- Rice noodles
- Spices – coriander seeds, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick
- Brown sugar
- Fish sauce – I really thought I would hate this (the smell is quite strong) but in the end, it blended perfectly and I barely noticed.
Pho Ga Toppings
This is my favorite part. I love fresh toppings so much and I load them up in my chicken pho dish.
I top my pho ga with mint, basil, cilantro, scallions, lime, and sriracha sauce.
I would very much have loved Thai basil but that was nowhere to be found.
I think another reason why I love this dish is that it’s mostly dump all ingredients in a pot and let it simmer.
Freezing Pho Ga
I made enough pho ga for about 2 weeks. I measured the amount for dinner x 3 days into a saucepan and put that in the fridge then poured the rest into an airtight container and stored it in the freezer.
I also had some rice noodles leftover and stored them in an airtight container in the freezer as well.
Store everything separately in airtight containers and you can keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months at a time.
I prefer fresh rice noodles though so I probably wouldn’t freeze those next time.
I was so impressed with the first attempt that I’ve now decided to brave more pho recipes.
I just ordered The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen.
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