Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
for the pho:
1 pound|450 grams leftover roast chicken carcass, skin, and unwanted parts
1 small (4 oz | 115 g) Fuji apple, peeled, cored, and cut into thumbnail-size chunks
1 medium (2 oz | 60 g) celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 small (3 oz | 90 g) carrot, cut into thick rounds (scrub and use unpeeled, if you like)
8 ounces|225 grams napa cabbage leaves, halved lengthwise then cut crosswise into large pieces
1 small bunch (1 ounce | 30 grams) cilantro, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
2 star anise (16 robust points total)
2 whole cloves
brimming 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 inches (3.75 cm) cinnamon stick
chubby 2-inch (5 cm) section ginger, peeled, cut into thick slices, and bruised
1 medium-large (9 oz | 270 g) yellow onion, halved and cut into thick slices
10 cups|2.5 liters water
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more as needed
about 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
about 1 teaspoon organic sugar, or 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
for the bowls:
10 ounces|300 grams dried narrow flat rice noodles, or 1 pound (450 g) fresh pho noodles
2 to 4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 to 8 ounces (180 to 225 grams) rotisserie chicken meat, torn into pieces about 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick
1/2 small (2 ounces | 60 grams) yellow or red onion, thinly sliced against the grain and soaked in water for 10 minutes
2 thinly sliced green onions, green parts only
1/4 cup|5 grams chopped fresh cilantro, leafy tops only
Optional extras: Garnish Plate for 4, Homemade Hoisin, Chile Sauce, Saté Sauce
1. Make the broth: Use your hands to break up the chicken carcass into chunky pieces so you can easily submerge them in liquid later. Set aside in a large bowl along with the apple, celery, carrot, cabbage, and cilantro. Keep near the stove.
2. Put the star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, and cinnamon in a small stockpot, about 8-quart (8 l) capacity. Over medium heat, toast the spices for several minutes, shaking or stirring, until fragrant. Add the ginger and onion and stir for 45 to 60 seconds, until lightly fragrant. Add 4 cups (1 l) of the water to arrest the cooking process. Add the carcass, apple, vegetables, salt, and the remaining 6 cups (1.5 l) water.
3. Partially cover and bring to a boil over high heat; there's usually little scum to skim. Uncover and lower the heat to lightly simmer for 1 hour. When done, let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. There's minimal fat to remove, so just strain through a muslin-lined mesh strainer positioned over a medium pot. Press and squeeze on the solids to expel extra broth. Discard the solids. There should be about 8 cups (2 l) broth.
4. If using the broth right away, season with fish sauce and with extra salt or sugar (or maple syrup), if needed. For make-ahead pho, partially cover the unseasoned broth, let cool, then refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months; reheat and season before using.
Prep and assemble the bowls While the broth cooks, or about 30 minutes before serving, ready ingredients for the bowls. Soak the dried noodles in hot water until pliable and opaque; drain, rinse, and drain well. If using fresh noodles, untangle or separate them and snip as needed. Divide them among 4 soup bowls.
5. Fill a saucepan two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to add the eggs (use more eggs if you are short on chicken meat). Cook at a boil for 7 to 9 minutes, frequently stirring to help center the yolks; use the lesser amount of time for runny yolks. When done, cool the eggs in an ice bath for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove and let cool at room temperature. Reserve the pot of water.
6. Peel and halve the eggs. Line them up with the chicken, noodles, onion, green onion, cilantro, and pepper in a pho assembly line. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat as you assemble the bowls. If needed, add water to the former egg-boiling pot, then bring to a boil for the noodles.
7. For each bowl, place a portion of the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve and dunk the noodles in the boiling water. When the noodles are soft, 5 to 60 seconds, pull the strainer from the water, shaking it to drain excess water back into the pot. Empty the noodles into a bowl. Top with chicken and place the egg off to the side. Add onion, green onion, and cilantro. Finish with some pepper.
8. Recheck the broth flavor, then raise the heat to return it to a boil. Ladle about 2 cups (480 ml) broth into each bowl. Serve immediately with any extras.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This recipe is reprinted with permission of the author from The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam's Favorite Soup and Noodles.