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Chicken pho noodle salad (phở gà trộn)

Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields Serves 4 as a light main course
Chicken pho noodle salad (phở gà trộn)
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times )

Quick chicken pho broth

1

Peel then slice the ginger into 4 or 5 coins. Smack with the flat side of a knife or meat mallet and set aside. Thinly slice the green parts of the green onion to yield 2 to 3 tablespoons, and set aside to use as a garnish in the final dish. Cut the leftover sections into 2- to 3-inch lengths, bruise, then add to the ginger.

2

Coarsely chop the leafy tops of the cilantro to yield 2 tablespoons; set aside to use as a garnish. Set the remaining cilantro sprigs aside.

3

In a 3- to 4-quart pot, toast the coriander seeds and clove over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger and bruised green onion sections. Stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

4

Remove the pot from heat for about 15 seconds to briefly cool, then pour in the broth. Add the water, cilantro sprigs, chicken, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to gently simmer for 30 minutes.

5

After 5 to 10 minutes of simmering, the chicken should be firm and cooked through (press on it and it should slightly yield). Transfer the chicken to a bowl, flush with cold water to stop the cooking, then drain. Cover loosely so the chicken does not dry out.

6

When the broth is done simmering, strain it through a fine-mesh strainer into a 2-quart (2-liter) pot; line the strainer with muslin for superclear broth. Discard the solids. You should have about 4 cups broth. Season with fish sauce and sugar, if needed, to create a strong savory-sweet note.

Chicken pho noodle salad

1

Combine 1⁄2 cup of the broth with the salt, sugar, chile sauce, vinegar and soy sauce. Set this sauce mixture near the stove.

2

Put the oil and the garlic in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the garlic sizzles and is light blond, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat for about 15 seconds to cool slightly, then add the sauce mixture. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir the cornstarch slurry, then swirl into the bubbly sauce. Once thickened, about 15 seconds, remove from heat and set aside for at least 10 minutes before using. This makes about 1/2 cup sauce.

3

Meanwhile, boil the noodles in a pot of water until tender chewy following the package instructions, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain, cool quickly under running water, then set aside to fully drain and cool.

4

Reheat the remaining broth in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut or shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and, if needed, warm in a microwave oven to remove the chill and refresh; ideally the chicken has some succulence. Set aside.

5

To assemble, have 4 rice bowls for broth and 4 noodle-soup-size bowls for the salad. Put a little green onion into each rice bowl (use the rest for the noodle salad). Set near the broth.

6

Divide the lettuce among the noodle soup bowls. Add a portion of noodles and chicken, then drizzle over the sauce to taste. Top with the remaining green onion, cilantro, mint (or basil), peanut, and fried shallots (or onion).

7

Ladle the hot broth into the rice bowls. Serve immediately with the noodle salad bowls. Invite guests to wield spoons and chopsticks to toss their salads and enjoy the broth as soothing interludes. If the noodles seem too heavy with sauce, mix in a spoonful of broth. Offer extra chile sauce to heat seekers.

Adapted from a recipe in Andrea Nguyen’s upcoming “The Pho Cookbook.”

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