Pressure cooker Pho Ga (vietnamese chicken soup)
OK. First of all, this does not aim to be authentic in any sense of the word or be simple or be perfect. It is a reasonable approximation of a favorite chicken soup/flavor profile produced with what I see as the right level of tradeoffs between time saving and being finicky. The most memorable Pho Ga I've had was at Turtle Tower in SF. This is chasing that flavor memory but also maybe some of my own chicken soup preferences.
- Pressure Cooker (stovetop or electric)
- Fine mesh sieve or chinois
- Cast iron pan
- large bowls or containers
- Wire mesh scoop (ie a 'spider')
- 1 fresh whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 package Vietnamese rice noodles
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2" piece of ginger'
- 2 yellow onions
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 3 scallions
- 2 star anise pods
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 tsp black pepper cloves
- 1" piece of cinnamon
- 1 Serrano chili
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce (Preferably Three Crabs brand)
- Kosher salt
- Vegetable oil
- Mung bean sprouts (optional)
- Fried Shallots (optional)
- Break down the whole chicken into parts: 2 leg/thighs, 2 breasts, 2 wings, backbone/carcass. Break the carcass into smaller pieces with a scissors or sharp knife/cleaver. Salt the chicken liberally on all sides
- Peel and slice the ginger into thick slices (1/8"). Smash the garlic with the back of the knife to peel it and leave it in big chunks. Peel the onions and cut lengthwise in half, removing the stem.
- In the pressure cooker (if you can sauté in it, or in a skillet) on high heat add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and toss in the onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook until they are starting brown, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stack all the chicken pieces on top of the aromatics and then use a large bowl filled with lukewarm water to cover the chicken up to the max fill line in the pressure cooker.
- Seal the lid and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
- Release the steam, remove the lid. At this point the chicken should be completely falling apart and you should have a very aromatic and yellow stock. You could stop at this point and use the chicken and stock in any number of recipes (Tacos, posole, ramen, etc).
- Use the spider to scoop all the chicken out of the stock in a clean bowl. Let cool a little and use your hands to pick out all the bones/carcass pieces from the chicken and put them back in the stock. Cover the chicken meat in the bowl with enough stock to keep it from drying out (probably about a cup).
- Chop the cilantro finely and add the stems to the pot of stock along with the lemongrass, 1 scallion and the dry spices (cardamom, anise, black pepper). Seal the lid again and pressure cook for 15 minutes.
- While the stock finishes cooking, prepare the noodles. In a large bowl or pot, cover the noodles with hot tap water and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Drain the soaking noodles and dump into the pot of boiling water. Cook at a rapid boil for between 1-2 minutes. You have to keep testing the noodles and stirring them with chopsticks to make sure they are still al dente and don’t turn into a pile of mush. As soon as they are cooked to your liking (remember, they’ll continue to cook in the hot soup) dump into a colander and run them under cold water, swishing them around with your hands to ensure they stop cooking. Drain completely and put aside while you finish the soup.
- Release the steam manually on the stock. Use a ladle to get as much of the soup out of the pot, straining through a fine mesh sieve or chinois into a large bowl or container. Pour the rest through, trying to avoid dumping any sediment on the bottom through the sieve. Return the strained soup to the pressure cooker and keep hot (warm setting or on a low flame). Add fish sauce and salt to taste.
- Compose the bowls: A large handful of noodles, a pile of shredded chicken, a couple ladles of stock, cilantro, scallions and then optional toppings: fried shallots, mung bean sprouts, finely sliced Serrano chili, quartered limes.
- Eat quickly. Any leftover stock can be frozen and any chicken can be used in a myriad of ways.