Hanoi chicken noodle soup

Pho ga

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

Pho is Hanoi’s breakfast soup. When made with stivers of beef it’s called pho bo, and when with chicken, pho ga. An egg yolk can be popped in just before serving. Pile it into bowls and go mad on the alongside-condiment front: herbs, sprinklings and dippy things (coriander, fish sauce, chilli sauce, rice vinegar with chilli rings in, lime wedges etc.), that you weave into your bowl as you eat. Again, any cooked Sunday lunch chicken carcass and its attached clingage can be used to make this. Beef or pork bones can be used instead, with fine slices of sirloin beef added on serving.


  • 1 x free-range poussin chicken or 2 chicken legs or cooked carcass
  • 1 bunch spring onions, trimmed
  • 3 cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp whole dried shrimp
  • 3 baby leeks, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • salt and black pepper
  • 400 g dried thread or ribbon rice noodles (pho), cooked according to the packet’s instructions


Put the chicken, half the spring onions and the next five ingredients into a large saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil, skim off any flotsam, cover, and simmer very gently for about 25 minutes, then allow all to cool for about 20 minutes. Lift the chicken from the stock on to a plate. Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve and discard all the flavouring ingredients. Discard the chicken skin, pull the meat from the bones, and return the flaked chicken to the strained stock. Chuck in the leeks and heat through for about 5 minutes. Season with fish sauce, lime juice and pepper. Add more salt if needed. To serve, put a mound of cooked noodles in each bowl, add the remaining spring onion, and pour over the piping hot chicken soup. Eat with all the leafage, bits and pieces mentioned in the introduction, with chopsticks, spoons and fingers.