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The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam's Favorite Soup and Noodles Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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From the Publisher
Quick Chicken Pho
Serves 2 - Takes about 40 minutes
Great for pho beginners, this recipe is also terrific for cooks in a hurry. It involves less than 45 minutes, during which you’ll doctor up store-bought broth so it says, 'I’m pho-ish'.
The keys to this streamlined approach include toasting spices and dry sautéing the ginger and green onion, which help to extract flavor fast. Poaching the chicken in the broth adds savory depth. You’ll practice some fundamental pho techniques that you can apply elsewhere, too. Choose a broth that tastes like chicken, such as Swanson brand, which is less fussed up and easy to manipulate. You need two 14.5-ounce (411 g) cans or one 32-ounce (907 ml) carton.
Peel then slice the ginger into 4 or 5 coins. Smack with the flat side of a knife or meat mallet; set aside. Thinly slice the green parts of the green onion to yield 2 to 3 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Cut the leftover sections into pinkie-finger lengths, bruise, then add to the ginger.
Coarsely chop the leafy tops of the cilantro to yield 2 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Set the remaining cilantro sprigs aside.
In a 3- to 4-quart (3 to 4 l) pot, toast the coriander seeds and clove over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger and green onion sections. Stir for about 30 seconds, until aromatic. Slide the pot off heat, wait 15 seconds or so to briefly cool, then pour in the broth.
Return the pot to the burner, then 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.
While the broth simmers, soak the rice noodles in hot water until pliable and opaque. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
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 arrest the cooking, then drain. Let cool, then cut or shred into bite-size pieces. Cover loosely to prevent drying.
When the broth is done, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer positioned over a 2-quart (2 l) pot; line the strainer with muslin for superclear broth. Discard the solids. You should have about 4 cups (1 l). Season with fish sauce and sugar (or maple syrup), if needed, to create a strong savory-sweet note.
Bring the strained broth to a boil over high heat. Put the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve and dunk in the hot broth to heat and soften, 5 to 60 seconds. Lift the noodles from the pot and divide between the 2 bowls.
Lower the heat to keep the broth hot while you arrange the chicken on top of the noodles and garnish with the chopped green onion, cilantro, and a sprinkling of pepper. Taste and adjust the broth’s saltiness one last time. Return the broth to a boil and ladle into the bowls. Enjoy with any extras, if you like.
- 3⁄4-inch (2 cm) section ginger
- 2 medium-large green onions
- 1 very small (.5 oz | 15 g) bunch cilantro sprigs
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 whole clove
- 3 1⁄2 to 4 cups (840 ml to 1 l) low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups (480 ml) water
- 1 (6 to 8 oz | 180 to 225 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh
- About 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 5 ounces (150 g) dried narrow flat rice noodles
- 2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce
- About 1⁄2 teaspoon organic sugar, or 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
- Pepper (optional)
- Optional extras: Garnish Plate for 2, 1⁄3 cup (90 ml) Ginger Dipping Sauce
“Andrea Nguyen has done the English-speaking world a tremendous favor with this book, the most authoritative guide to pho I've ever seen. It dispels rumors, tells truths, and thoughtfully chronicles Vietnam's rich but underexplored soup culture. Andrea lays out the facts about pho in a way that makes you slurp them down, and then chases the lessons with a stack of recipes that will send you directly to the kitchen. The marriage of purpose and passion that she's brought to this book is a rare thing.”
- DAVID CHANG, coauthor of Momofuku and cofounder of Lucky Peach
“Andrea Nguyen is the world’s greatest expert in Vietnamese cooking. Her latest book is a stunning and comprehensive guide to pho, that country’s most delicious food. Everything you ever wanted to know about pho is here: how to make it, how to eat it, its history, its regional variations—and so much more. All lovers of Asian food need to own this most extraordinary book.”
- JAMES OSELAND, author Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore
“Andrea Nguyen is the kind of writer who doesn’t just show you how to follow her recipes, she also teaches you how to be a better cook. This book is a fantastic example. You’ll learn how to make delicious pho while also gaining a whole new sensibility around an unfamiliar pantry. Buy this book. Cook from it. You'll end up a far better cook than you were before.”
- PIM TECHAMUANVIVIT, proprietress of Kin Khao
"Nguyen’s recipes are a cook’s dream: well tested, easy to follow, and written in a friendly, conversational style. This is not unique to The Pho Cookbook; cooking from any of Nguyen’s books is like listening to an incredibly patient friend explain a recipe over the telephone."
- Lucky Peach
"Nguyen is a master teacher when it comes Vietnam’s national dish, and in her new book she provides meticulously clear instructions for every imaginable variety—we recommend you cook through every chapter."
- Food & Wine
"With the same clarity and care displayed in her previous books, Nguyen guides even the nervous first-time pho navigator to slurp-worthy success."
- NPR.org, Best Books of 2017
"Great for: Pho addicts or home cooks enamored with fragrant broths and Vietnamese comfort food."
- Bay Area News Group
"For lovers of pho, the hearty and delicious Vietnamese noodle soup, this is a wonderfully approachable guide to making your own at home."
- NPR's Here & Now Best Cookbooks of 2017
About the Author
ANDREA NGUYEN is an author, teacher, and consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in Vietman, she came to the United States at the age of six. Her first book, a children’s book, chronicles that journey. She has written a number of acclaimed cookbooks, including Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Asian Dumplings, and The Banh Mi Handbook. Her food writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Cooking Light, Lucky Peach, Saveur, and Rodale’s Organic Life, where she is a contributing editor.
Top customer reviews
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Just turning the introductory pages of this book, my senses were teased by the beautiful pictures, both action and still shots. (And there is a full page picture for every main recipe.) Pictures are colorful and vibrant—mouthwatering, too!
Even an insert to help the reader correctly pronounce pho and a page on how to eat it.
History of pho comes at the beginning of the book.
One chapter covers thorough explanations and pictures of pho ingredients: Noodles, spices, aromatics, bottled seasonings, sweeteners, herbs and garnishes. You will learn to select the best bones and the proper cuts of meat.
Plenty of helpful hints and tips. Do you ever read instructions and wonder why certain techniques or extra steps are included—and been left wondering? That will not happen with these recipes. You will learn how and why to char ginger and onions/shallots and parboil bones.
There are simple and quick pho recipes, meatless pho, pressure cooker pho and classic recipes.
Ingredients are not hard to find in well-stocked larger grocery stores. Of course, being near to an Asian market is helpful. But chicken, beef and pork meat and bones can be found almost everywhere. (But certain lamb cuts and bones, for instance, are harder for me to find at a regular grocery store in central and southern Texas, and an Asian market helps with that.)
Be aware that ingredient lists can be somewhat long. Do not let that daunt you! Prep work is easy and not time consuming. I have learned that gathering up ingredients gets to be less and less of a chore the more often I do it. If you make pho often enough, the shelf ingredients will migrate together and you won’t be wasting time gathering them from here and there. Just get past that initial long list and it will soon become second nature.
Each recipe provides the name of the pho in both Vietnamese and English. There is a short and interesting introduction and the reader will see approximate times for preparation. Recipes serve from 2 to 6, with most recipes serving 4 diners. Ingredient lists are concise and include both Imperial and Metric measurements. Instructions are broken into spaced paragraphs which help re-direct the eyes to where one left off. Instructions make sense and won’t leave an inexperienced cook wondering how to proceed.
I do use both a large and a small pressure cooker on occasion, so I found an entire page discussion of the virtues of a pressure cooker vs. a stockpot to be quite interesting. (My point here, again, is that valuable and worthwhile tips and hints are included in this book.)
I especially liked the chapter “Adventurous Pho”. It is designed to remind the reader that making pho is a creative process, and a recipe in a book is just a foundation, or a jumping off place, for experimentation. In this chapter there is a seafood pho and a lamb pho. One for rotisserie chicken, too! There are a few fried rice and fat rice recipes and a banh mi.
There are also recipes for appropriate dipping sauces, bowl add-ins, fried bread sticks and a helpful pho spice blend. I was happy to see a recipe for homemade hoisin, a chile sauce and a sate sauce.
Pho is more that noodles in broth. There is a chapter that contains a few stir-fried recipes, some pan fried recipes and deep fried dishes.
A final chapter is all about pho sides: Pot stickers, salads, slaw, rice paper rolls, more sauces, drinks. Even a Pho Michelada!
*I received a temporary download of this book from the publisher months before publication, so I have been working with it for quite a while. As you can see from the "Verified Purchase" tag up top of my review, I liked this book so much that I bought a hard copy to always have at hand.