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.
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.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.