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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Phở Gà Khô (Vietnamese Dry Chicken Noodle)

In my hometown in Vietnam, there was a delicious Pho house named "Á Đông" (translated Southeast Asia) .  Whenever I craved for Phở Gà Khô, this was the place to be. Its specialty was dry chicken noodle served with a bowl of chicken broth, green scallion, and sprinkled with black pepper . That was about 20 years ago.  I am not sure if this chicken noodle house still exists but the place, the aroma of their chicken noodle and the broth have not faded from my mind. 

Just the other day, I craved for a bowl of dry chicken noodle. I began to make a list of what I remembered was in Á Đông's chicken noodle.  Eventhough, it's been such a long time, I still can recall all the ingredients in that bowl of noodle.  I invited a few friends over to test my version of the chicken noodle.  They liked it very much.  I thought it tasted exactly like the bowl I had 20 years ago. 
* * *
RECIPE: Dry chicken noodle soup

1 Hen  (I prefer free range whole chicken,available at Nugget Market or Whole Food Market)
1 piece Pork Fat
3 slices of Ginger Root
1 bag fresh Stick Noodle
1 cup of Soy Sauce
     1/2 tablespoon of Annatto Seeds (Hột Điều) 
2 cloves of Garlic, sliced
Sugar or Rock Sugar Chilli Pepper
Fried Shallots
Fresh Cirlantro, for garnish noodle and soup
Basil Sprigs, for garnish noodle and soup
Curlantro (ngo gai), for garnish noodle and soup
1 bags fresh Bean Sprouts
Culantro (Ngò Gai)
1 Limes, cut into wedges

Discard any excess fat from a hen.
Rinse hen with cold water and place in a stockpot.
Add the water just enough to submerge the hen and ginger slices and bring to a boil.
Skim any foam that rises to the surface.
Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until hen is cooked.
Do not allow the liquid to boil to ensure a clear broth.
Remove the hen. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve.
Return the broth to a large soup pot. 
Season with salt
Add sugar if needed.
Add a bag of Vietnamese noodle soup spices and continue to simmer for about 1/2 hour.
Remove spices bag.
Keep  broth hot while you assemble the remaining ingredients.

Prepare Sauce
Heat the pan with oil and Annatto Seeds in hot oil pan at medium for about 4 minutes.  Add slices of garlic.   Turn off the heat. Remove the seeds.  Pour annatto oil into soy sauce bowl.  Add a teaspoon of paprika.  Mix it up. 

Remove pork skin.
Dice the pork fat in small cubes.
They will shrink during the process.
Put them in a large pot and render the pork fat cubes over medium heat, occasionally stirring.
As the cubes release more fat, the rendered fat tends to splatter quite a bit.  It's done when the pork fat cubes are golden brown; remove them from the oil. 
Place a piece of paper towel on top of a plate and pour fried fat pork over it to keep fried fat pork cubes dry. 
Save pork oil for later. 

Prepare the Hen

Discard the hen's bone and shred or sliced meat into small pieces.

When ready to serve the noodle and soup, place a handful of bean sprouts in
the mesh sieve and dip it into boiled water for about 5 seconds. 
Remove the mesh sieve and shake it to drain the water; then put the bean sprouts into a large bowl.
Put the noodle into the mesh sieve and repeat the process. 
Wait for 10 seconds then pour noodle on top of the bean sprout.
drizzle a teaspoon of  pork oil.
Laying shredded chicken over the top of the noodle.
Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of fried pork fat.
Sprinkle some fried shallots.
Drizzle mixed soy sauce over the top.
Drizzle about a tablespoon or a soup spoon of chicken broth if you don't like the noodle is too dry.
Sprinkle on some black pepper.
Ganish with chopped green scallion, chopped cirlantro and chopped culantro.
Ladle chicken broth into a separate smaller bowl. 
Ganish with chopped green scallion, chopped cilantro.
Serve the noodle bowl and  soup immediately.
Place  basil, lime wedges and chili peppers in a plate on the table for each person to garnish their own noolde as desired.

chicken, fried shallots, fried pork fat, bean sprout, pork oil, mixed sauce, black pepper, basil, culantro, cirlantro, green scalion, lime, chilli pepper


  1. Thank you for the recipe. We are trying to make it this morning.

  2. Thank you for posting this pho kho A Dong recipe. Our family has tried it out and we liked it very much. We will definitely recommend this authentic recipe to our friends.

  3. Hi Ms. Loan,

    Being a newbie at cooking, I really need all the help I can get. I'd love to try this recipe but about how much salt and sugar do you put into the broth? Thank you!


  4. Hi Anh,

    I have to make this dish again in order to tell you the exact amount of salt and sugar
    :-). In the meantime, just add a small amount of salt and sugar at a time and taste it until you think it's good enough. Sorry, I can't tell you the exact amount at this moment :-(