A bowl of chicken pho with sriracha and chopsticks visible in the background
Photography, Chris Middleton

Classic Chicken Pho

Simple ingredients and easy techniques for the perfect pho.

Jerry Mai created this recipe for the pho-uninitiated: a classic chicken version served with bean sprouts, chilies and a lemongrass sate sauce. “Pho’ gà has a delicate and light-tasting broth that contrasts wonderfully with the bold-tasting flavours of the accompaniments,” she writes. The broth is the star of the show – it takes some time to make your own, but the effort is well worth it.

A bowl of chicken pho with sriracha and chopsticks visible in the background

Chicken Pho

Jerry Mai's recipe for traditional Vietnamese chicken pho, made with a flavourful from-scratch broth.
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 8


Lemongrass Sate

  • 6 lemongrass stalks white part only, sliced
  • 15 long red chilies sliced
  • 6 bird’s eye chilies sliced
  • 3 brown onions chopped
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 L vegetable oil
  • 150 ml fish sauce

Chicken Pho

  • 4 lb 6 oz (2 kg) fresh pho noodles see note
  • 1 brown onion thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves picked
  • 6 lb 10 oz (3 kg) chicken bones
  • 1 old hen or stewing bird optional
  • 7 oz piece ginger unpeeled
  • 2 large brown onions unpeeled
  • 1 garlic bulb unpeeled, halved
  • 1 2 lb 3 oz (1 kg) free-range chicken
  • 6 star anise
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 1 small stick cassia bark
  • 50 g coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp sea salt
  • 200 ml fish sauce
  • 50 g superfine sugar


  • 2 lb 3 oz (1 kg) bean sprouts
  • 2 bunches Thai basil
  • 6 bird’s eye chilies sliced
  • 3 lemons cut into wedges
  • sriracha chili sauce
  • hoi sin sauce
  • Lemongrass Sate
  • fish sauce


Lemongrass Sate

  • In a food processor, individually blitz the lemongrass, long chilies, bird’s eye chilies, onion and garlic.
  • Place the blitzed onion in a square of cheesecloth and squeeze out and discard any excess liquid.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat to 175°F (80°C) on a kitchen thermometer. Stirring regularly throughout the whole process to avoid burning, empty the onion from the muslin into the oil and cook for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, then add both the chilies and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Finally, add the lemongrass and fish sauce and cook for 20 minutes or until the sate is a rich red colour.
  • Set aside to cool completely, then spoon into a sterilised jar and seal. The sate will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Chicken Pho

  • To make the broth, rinse the chicken bones to remove any blood and splinters, then transfer to a 10 litre (2½ gallon) stockpot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the bones, then place over high heat and bring to the boil. Boil the bones for 20 to 30 minutes, until no more blood comes to the surface. Drain and discard the cooking liquid, and rinse any remaining blood or impurities from the bones. Return the bones to a clean stockpot and add the old hen (if using). Cover with water to nearly the top of the pot and bring back to the boil.
  • Meanwhile, roast the ginger, onion and garlic over a gas stovetop or barbecue flame, or under the grill (broiler) until the skins are blistered and aromatic. Rinse off any burnt bits and add, whole, to the broth, along with the whole chicken. Poach the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through, then remove from the broth and set aside to cool.
  • Remove the chicken meat from the bones and return the bones to the broth. Tear the chicken meat into smaller pieces and set aside.
  • Toast the star anise, cardamom pods, cassia bark and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Tie the spices in a square of cheesecloth and drop it into the broth. Continue to gently simmer the broth over medium heat for a further 4 to 5 hours until the broth has reduced by 20 to 30 per cent.
  • When the stock is ready, remove and discard the bones, old hen and spices. Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Season the stock with the salt, fish sauce and sugar. Return to low heat and simmer until ready to serve.
  • Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch individual portions (see note) of the pho noodles (about 4 oz–5½ oz/120 g–150 g per person) for 10 seconds, then transfer to large noodle bowls. Evenly divide the chicken among the bowls, pour over the hot stock and top with the onion, spring onion and coriander.
  • Place the accompaniments on a serving platter and place in the centre of the table. Serve the pho and invite guests to season and flavour their own dish.


Fresh pho noodles can be purchased from most Asian supermarkets. If you are unable to find them, you can also use dried thin rice stick noodles (sometimes referred to as pad Thai noodles). Cook according to the packet instructions, then drain and divide among noodle bowls.

A pink and purple book cover with an illustration of a crab, moon and stars in a light tan frame.

Share this article:

Sign up for our Good Life newsletter and get a FREE Easy Week Night Dinners Recipe Booklet

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.