Food Writer Sophie Braybrook reviews Bar + Block's 'bottomless brunch'Written by Sophie Braybrook on 30th March 2017
Recipe: Pho Ga
Food Writer Will Haynes whips up a deeply flavourful Vietnamese chicken noodle soup
Hot steamy broth with notes of aniseed and ginger; soft rice noodles with crunchy beansprouts and tender chicken; garnished with bright green fragrant herbs: this traditional Indo-Chinese street food dish is healthy, warming and adventurous.
- 1 whole free-range or higher welfare chicken
- 1 white onion
- 1 medium-sized piece of root ginger
- 2 whole star anise
- A few whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- A handful of fresh coriander stalks
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons rock sugar or dark brown sugar
- 75g banh pho rice noodles
- 50g bean sprouts (optional)
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves
- 3 spring onions
- 1 stick fresh lemongrass
- A wedge of lime
- 1 red chilli (optional)
- A sprinkle of crispy shallots (optional)
Start by blackening the onion and ginger - with the skin on - in the flame of a gas hob or under a grill on full heat (this will sweeten and caramelise the inside). Peel the black skin off both and slice in half. Add to a stock pot or large saucepan with the whole chicken. Toast the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise in a hot dry pan for a minute, then add to the pot. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 1h15 then remove from the heat. Remove the chicken from the broth to rest and cool. Once cool, pull all the meat from the carcass and store.
Wash the carcass with cold water in the sink and then return to the broth. Add the fish sauce and sugar, and season with salt. Bring to the boil and gently simmer again for at least two hours, or up to six hours for more flavour, stirring occasionally, and topping up with water if needed. Allow to cool and then skim off the fat, before straining through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
Place your rice noodles in a bowl, pour over boiling water and cover for 10-15 minutes. Strain and place in a large dinner bowl. Portion off a few ladles of broth and add the lemongrass and white part of the spring onions, sliced diagonally. Reheat gently while preparing the garnishes. Blanch the beansprouts for a minute so they retain some crunch. Take the green ends of the spring onions, flatten into a sheet and slice finely at a slight angle. Plunge in cold water for a minute and they will curl up to form a lovely green nest. Shred some chicken meat, and add to the bowl next to the beansprouts. Ladle the hot broth over the chicken and noodles, filling the bowl. Arrange the green onions, coriander leaves, lime wedges and sliced chilli on the top. Eat with chopsticks and a soup spoon to slurp the broth.