Today we dined on Vietnamese cuisine.  I made Phở Gà, a chicken and rice noodle soup.

We've tried food with origins in Vietnam before, but every time I prepare anything using fish sauce, I always forget how much it makes the house smell like a combination of boy's locker room, arm pits on a hot day and warm licorice.  So, if you decide to try this recipe, keep in mind that the odd smell lingers for a bit, but the flavor is not at all like the smell.

Phở Gà (original recipe found at Kid World Citizen)

You will need:
1 whole chicken, with skin and bones
1 T salt
1 T sugar
1/4 c fish sauce (can purchase it at most supermarkets or Asian grocers)
2 unpeeled yellow onions
1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger, unpeeled and cut into piecesAny combination of the following spices:
abt 1 tsp each fennel seeds & coriander seeds
Square, thin rice noodles (known as bánh phở)
Sliced green onions (for garnish)
Bean sprouts (for garnish)

Rinse the chicken and put it into a large stock pot.  Fill to the top with water and boil for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove the chicken and rinse again.  Dump the water, put the chicken back in the pot and refill with water to near the top.  (The original recipe says that this helps to purify the broth.  I noticed it got the fat and parts of the skins that were loose out of the water, before I continued making the broth).  Add the fish sauce, salt and sugar.   I let the water boil for about 40 minutes, then removed the chicken from the broth.

Putting it on a plate, I separated the meat from the bones, and put the bones back into the broth for added flavor.

While the broth is boiling, roast the onions and ginger in the broiler (or on a grill if you don't have a broiler) until they are soft and slightly brownish black.  I broiled them about 12 minutes. 

Add them just as they are to the broth.  Continue to boil.  Take the fennel seeds and coriander seeds and put them into a small frying pan.  Heat over medium heat until the spices let off a slight aroma but not long enough to burn them.  Once the spices are "activated," add them to the broth.

Your broth should look something like this, at this point.  Continue boiling.

Now, while the rest is still boiling, boil another pot of water.  Put your noodles in a bowl and pour the boiling water over the top.  Allow the noodles to soak for about 30 minutes.  I stirred my noodles occasionally to make sure that they were all in the water.

Take the chicken and shred into smaller pieces.  Once the noodles are done, strain them.  Ladle the noodles into a bowl.  Add the chicken on top and ladle some broth into the bowl.  Garnish with green onion and bean sprouts. Total cook time for the broth was about 1 1/2 hours, just FYI.

Verdict:  Everyone loved the flavor of the chicken and the combination of textures and flavors overall.  Ebabe was not too fond of the noodles after a few bites and Boo did not like the broth by itself.  Both Boo and Bug asked for some of the leftovers to be put in their lunch boxes tomorrow! 

During clean up, I pulled the wishbone out of the put and let the girls make a wish.  Since I don't often cook an entire chicken, they have not had many opportunities to do this and thought it was fun... right up until they started arguing with each other about who was going to pull harder.  Oh, well.

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