Pho is a cure-all soup, the Vietnamese equivalent of chicken and dumplings or chicken noodle soup. For me, it is the perfect chicken soup. Charles Phan, chef and owner of the famed Slanted Door in San Francisco, makes the best pho I’ve ever had. His secrets? Coaxing every last bit of flavour out of his chicken for stock, and roasting the ginger and onions in the oven first for extra flavour. When I’ve got the time, I love to do it his way, and take hours to roast the veggies and allow the stock to really take shape. But in this new version, I’ve done two things: I’ve sped it up for weeknight/easy weekend cooking, and I’ve replaced the traditional rice noodle with spiralised daikon radish, which is rich in vitamins and minerals and is a natural decongestant. Coupled with the benefits of citrus and garlic, the daikon makes this soup restorative as well as a wonderful age-defying remedy. If you prefer, watermelon radish and carrots can be used instead of, or in addition to, the daikon for a beautiful effect.
Chicken Pho with Daikon “Noodles”
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
2 onions, unpeeled, halved
one 5cm piece ginger, thinly sliced into coins
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 litres chicken stock
1 tbsp fish sauce, plus more as needed
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (510g total)
455g daikon radish, peeled and ends trimmed
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, plus more as needed
1 tsp tamari, plus more as needed
sliced jalapeños, bean sprouts, whole basil and mint leaves, and lime wedges for garnish
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Place the onion halves and ginger coins on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil and toss to coat. Roast until the onions are golden brown, about 30 minutes.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Add the garlic along with the roasted onions and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and fish sauce, and stir. Add the chicken to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
While the chicken simmers, use the finest blade of a spiraliser to shred the daikon into noodles, cutting them into about 30cm lengths.
Using tongs, transfer the chicken breasts to a plate. Let cool slightly, then carefully remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Remove the meat from the bones, and use two forks to shred it into bite-size pieces.
Strain the broth into a clean pot, and discard the onion and ginger. Return the chicken meat to the broth, along with the lime juice and tamari. Taste and season with additional fish sauce, lime juice, and tamari as desired.
Divide the daikon evenly among serving bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls. Top with jalapeños, bean sprouts, basil, mint and lime wedges. Serve.
Extracted from The Vibrant Life by Amanda Haas (Chronicle Books, approx €24). Photographs by Erin Kunkel.