It used to be that whenever I would go out of town, Adam would get himself Vietnamese take out and watch a bunch of action movies, two things I claimed not to like. I still don't really watch anything without Colin Firth or Julianne Moore in it (I kid), but I did eventually fall in love with Vietnamese food, including Bun Cha, Goi Cuon-Fresh Spring Rolls, and the simple, easy to replicate Chicken Pho Ga- Vietnamese noodle soup. I made this today for Jasper who is stuck at home with a nasty outbreak of poison oak, because it is his favorite too, and chicken soup really does make everything better.
The secret to making Chicken Pho Ga is in the flavorful broth. It must be homemade. This isn't really all that hard to do. I prepare stock by boiling a couple of pounds of chicken backs and necks (ask for them at the meat counter) or in a pinch, 5-6 chicken legs (skin removed) in about 12 cups of water. For Pho broth, I add 4-6 tablespoons of peeled,sliced fresh ginger, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 yellow onion, and a chopped carrot, plus about 3 tablespoons of kosher salt, plus more to taste after it cooks. Bring all ingredients to boil, skimming off and discarding any foam from the surface. Strain the broth after simmering for about an hour. This can be made ahead of time and frozen to keep on hand.
Simple Chicken Pho Ga
12 cups chicken broth
8 oz cooked chicken breast-thinly sliced
12 oz rice vermicelli, cooked and rinsed
Serano or Jalapeno pepper
Compose individual servings into large flat bowls, first layering the noodles, then chicken, pouring broth over the top. Top with bean sprouts, herbs, peppers, lime and dot with sauce.