Instant Pot Pho Ga

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Recently we were privileged to visit Vietnam on an agriculture tour, and while we saw many fascinating sites, naturally it was the food that captivated me. The triad of ginger, garlic and onion seems to be the base of almost every dish and the many varieties of bright, fresh herbs sprinkled on everything gave each dish such a flavourful boost.

 

Pho, pronounced “fuh”  but with a lift at the end, like you are asking a question, is the popular food most commonly associated with Vietnamese cuisine, and is a hearty noodle soup usually eaten for breakfast. It was served at every breakfast buffet, surrounded by piles of fresh herbs and additions to customize it to one’s taste. Pho refers to the thin, long rice noodles used, Pho Ga is made with chicken and Pho Bo is beef. So when we returned from Vietnam, I wanted to recreate some of my favorite dishes for my family and impress them with my newly learned chopstick skills, and Pho was a hit!  

When I first heard about the Instant Pot, I thought it would be just another passing fad and resisted the urge to purchase one, but after hearing many great reports, I broke down and I am loving it! Soup gets made in record time, and I’ve experimented with a number of unique recipes, including amazingly tender ribs and even duck confit! This recipe is a perfect introduction to cooking with an Instant Pot.

Soup always tastes better the next day, so if you can make the broth the night before, you’ll be rewarded with an even better flavour. I’m sure this soup could be made on the stove top, you’d just need to allow the bones, carcass, and spices to simmer for 2-3 hours. It’s the spices that give this soup it’s exotic flavours, so you could also prepare chicken stock the way you normally do, but with the addition of garlic, ginger and spices. The broth also freezes well, so even if you’re just one or two people, you can freeze it in some smaller containers and thaw for a quick bowl of Pho, even faster than takeout!  

Before we get into the recipe, let’s talk about ingredients. At first glance, its a long list! But don’t let that put you off, the vast majority of ingredients here are spices, and if you cook from scratch often then you’ll already have most of these in your pantry. I also mention two different sauces from Little Saigon: Fish Sauce & Chili Oil. Now, while the ideal bowl of pho has both, you really only need the fish sauce, especially if you’re not a fan of very spicy food. If you already cook a lot of asian cuisine, chances are you have one of these sitting in your kitchen right now. As for the fresh toppings, you can pick and choose a little bit here and top your bowl of pho only with your favourites (but please don’t skip the lime!) In the summertime most of these will be readily available in your herb garden!

Ingredients

For the Soup:

  • 1 Lepp’s Roasted Chicken
  • 1 package Lepp’s frozen chicken soup bones, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, sliced
  •   2 cloves garlic, smashed
  •    8 oz rice noodles

For the Toppings:

  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, Thai basil if you can find it
  • 1 cup torn mint leaves
  • 1 Thai bird chili pepper, thinly sliced
  • Little Saigon’s chili Oil
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Spices For the Flavour:

  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 6 cups water or combination of Lepp’s Chicken stock and water
    (1 container chicken stock equals four cups, so you’d need to add 2 cups water)
  • 2 Tbsp Little Saigon fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Method
  1. Debone the roasted chicken and cut chicken meat into large chunks, set aside.  Keep carcass, including all bones and skin.
  2. Set 6-qt Instant Pot® to the high saute setting. Heat vegetable oil; add onion, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in cloves, star anise pods, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and peppercorns until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in chicken bones and carcass including skin, water and/or chicken stock to equal six cups, fish sauce, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 20 minutes. When finished cooking, quick-release pressure according to manufacturer’s directions.
  5. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve, lined with cheesecloth if possible; discard solids. Skim any remaining fat from surface and discard; season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add more fish sauce to taste, 1 tsp. at a time if more “tang” is needed.
  6. Fill a large pot of water, get it boiling and turn off.  Immediately put noodles in the water, cover and let sit for 15 minutes until soft.  Drain well.
  7. Divide noodles and chicken into serving bowls. Ladle over the broth mixture and serve immediately. Place all garnishes on a large plate and allow each diner to garnish according to their own tastes with bean sprouts, basil, mint, chili pepper and/or Little Saigon Chili Oil and lime.