Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Chicken Pho - main pic

I was inspired to try this dish after finding myself sitting in the doctors waiting room and having to decide between a cookery magazine, a 15 year old dog eared Readers Digest and an old copy of Sporting Life.

Naturally I chose the former and came across the vegetarian version of this recipe by the excellent Madeleine Shaw in her new book: Ready, Steady Glow (Orion £20)

I feel I must apologise to those that followed me into the room as, without the benefits of a mobile phone I was forced to surreptitiously remove said recipe and secrete it about my person.

I would love to say that I suffered enormous feelings of guilt about desecrating the magazine and ruining the pleasure of those that followed – but hey, needs must and all that, nobody ever called me a saint and, let’s face it I can share it with the entire world now can’t I?

Pho (usually pronounced “fer”) is everywhere in Vietnam and the street food versions where they supply you with a big bowl of fresh herbs to throw in is absolute heaven, I could literally eat it everyday, it’s that good.

The recipe below is a basic starter point for you, designed for you to add to, or subtract any of the ingredients. Remember to simmer the stock well so that the chicken is well heated through. If you wanted to use fresh chicken, then cut into small pieces as stated and add to the ginger / garlic mix and brown slightly to add flavour before adding the rest.

As you can see from the picture, I added shredded carrot, sliced red pepper and small fresh broad beans to mine, as I had them in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy this easy, but heavenly dish from the Far East as much as I do, I will post the vegetarian version at a later date!

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter

4 cloves of garlic – peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh ginger – peeled and finely chopped or grated

1 medium red onion – peeled, halved and finely sliced

200g cooked chicken (removed from the bone and cut into bite size pieces)

450ml of chicken stock

1 tablespoon of Tamari or dark soy sauce

1 star anise

1 black cardamom pod (optional)

1 cinnamon stick – about 4cm in length

Sea salt and black pepper – to taste


1 tablespoon of spring onions finely chopped lengthways, or finely sliced red onion

1 small red chilli – finely sliced

1 tablespoon of roughly chopped coriander leaves



Heat the oil or butter in a pan, add the garlic, red onion and ginger and stir for a couple of minutes until slightly softened.

Add the chicken pieces, stock, tamari, black cardamom, star anise and cinnamon stick, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Taste and season as you wish – it is better to season at this stage if you don’t know the salt content of the soy sauce or chicken stock

Ladle the Pho into 2 warm bowls and garnish with the above


Cooks Tip:

*Don’t forget to wear gloves when handling the chilli, especially if you wear contact lenses – you will only get it wrong once!

Ingredients pic



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