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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Phở Gà Khô Hai Tô (Vietnamese Dry Chicken Noodle)

If you have a chance to visit the mountainous region of Pleiku where I was born, you must try the dry noodle dish (phở khô) - the pride of Pleiku.  When ordering your food, you just called out: "cho một tô phở khô" (give me a bowl of dry noodle) - and automatically they will bring you two bowls.  How's that for service?

Phở khô known as 'phở hai tô' (two bowls of phở). The first bowl consists of noodle and toppings.  The second bowl consists of delicious broth, meatballs, or rare beef. Then served with a plate of bean sprouts, lettuce, and herbs.

Every phở khô place has its own way of preparing a bowl of dry noodle. My favorite place for phở khô gà (dry chicken noodle) was Á Đông (now renamed to Ngọc Sơn). Their dried noodle bowl consists of noodle, shredded chicken, chicken gizzard, heart, liver, and fried pork fat and serve with another bowl of beef broth.

Phở khô Hồng is another of my favorite place.  Her noodle bowl is full of goodness ground pork, fried pork fat, and fried shallots, served with your choice of a bowl of broth with thin slices of beef or beef meatballs.

When eaten, squeeze a bit of lime juice, toss in the vegetables and herbs, a few slices of red chili pepper, and mix them up. Then take your time to enjoy the noodle and sip a spoon of broth at a time. "phở two bowls" is not meant for you to combine into one bowl. You will lose the taste and essence of the noodle flavor and the natural sweetness of the broth.

It's has been over 25 years and yet the aroma of their phở khô and the broth have not faded from my mind. It has definitely left an indelible mark in my food memory band.  I introduced phở gà khô (dry chicken noodle) to my husband and instantly it's become one of his favorite phở.  Here's your chance to try them. 
RECIPE: Phở Gà Khô
for broth
1 hen (available at Asian market)
1 large piece ginger, peeled, cut into 3 slices
1 onion, peeled, cut into half or
a handful of shallots, peeled
a handful of garlic cloves, peeled
1 rock sugar, about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 packet phở spice
for sauce
3 shallots, thinly slices
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 white and light green parts of green onion
1 tablespoon olive oil or annatto oil (recipe here)
1/2 cup Maggi Europe soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon paprika, optional
other ingredients
fried pork fat, click here for recipe
2 bags phở noodle
bean sprouts
lettuces, optional
basil leaves
culantro leaves (ngò gai), finely chopped, optional
cilantro, finely chopped
chili peppers, thinly sliced, optional
lime or lemon, cut into wedges
black pepper

Cooking the Chicken and Broth

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), ginger slices, onion or shallots, garlic, rock sugar, salt, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let the chicken sits for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove the chicken, let cool, and shred or cut the meat. You can also cool down the chicken quickly by placing in ice and water.

Reserve the chicken bones to put back into the broth pot.  Add a tablespoon of fish sauce, and a bag of phở spice.

any brand you pick would be fine

Simmer the broth for another 15-20 minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the surface. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.  If you like beef meatballs, cut each meatball into half, and add them into the pot. 
Preparing Pork Fat

click here for the recipe

Preparing the Sauce

Heat olive oil or annatto oil in a sauce pan over medium. The purpose of using annatto oil is to give the sauce its distinctive red color. You can skip the annatto seeds if preferred.  Cook shallots, green onion, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant. Add sugar, paprika if used, and chicken broth from the broth pot, stirring, until sugar dissolved. Turn the heat off. Add soy sauce last.

First Bowl - Blanch phở noodle in a pot of boiling water for a couple seconds. If you don't like eating raw bean sprouts, blanch both pho noodle and bean sprouts together. Don't blanch it too long as the noodle will be mushy.

Place noodle into a bowl.  Top with shredded chicken, fried pork fat, fried shallots, chopped herbs, and sprinkle some black pepper.

shredded chicken with egg yolks inside the chicken

Second Bowl - If you like to have steak in your broth, add thin slices or chopped steak into the bowl, then ladle the boiling broth into the bowl.

I prefer serving phở with chopped steak over sliced steak

Otherwise, ladle broth, with or without meatballs into the bowl. Garnish with cilantro and a dash of black pepper.

Serve  'phở hai tô' with a side of  sauce, bean sprouts, lettuces, basil, lime wedges, hoisin sauce, sriracha hot sauce, or chili peppers for each person to garnish their own noodle as desired.


  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 :-(

  5. Is there Vietnamese translation so I can show to my mom ? Thanks ! :)

    1. Sorry...I don't have a version in Vietnamese but you can use google translation. It might translate a bit funny but I think your mom will be still able to understand it.

  6. I am excited to see pho in this style. I often order mì khô but never thought of pho can be eaten this way. Love the creativity and thanks for sharing another wonderful recipe!