So it was only recently that I was reading up on bone broth and the amazing benefits it has to our body, (more info here), I wish I had started eating this sooner! People are slowly realising that the creation of bone broth / Pho (pronounced ‘Fuh’) is different from your standard chicken soup. So this month I started investigating Pho and tried many myself, cow stomachs and all. Recently I visited a traditional Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney and spoke with the beautiful owners about why Pho is becoming so popular.“Everyone needs to eat Pho, the bone broth offers many many health benefits to your entire body, when you sick, hung over, low on electrolytes, have a cold pho will make you better very fast. It’s very healthy for bodies when cooked right including improving your digestive and immune systems, bones, joints, hair, teeth, and nails.” said Mrs. Tran. Mrs Tran has been cooking traditional Vietnamese food for over 20 years, so she really new what she was talking about.
“Pho is a simple dish that you can mix and match alot of ingredients but pho is very time-consuming to make so you must always be thankful and appreciate your cooks long hours to create very good broth. Its respect that you must always drink the broth first when served to you because we spend long time cooking the broth we want you to taste alll the amazing flavours of the pho before you add the garnish to the meal.” said Mrs. Tran
Broth is the most important element in pho and can make or break this dish, Pho broth normally takes 3-4 days to make! The soup can be made with either beef broth (pho bo) or chicken broth (pho ga). I am a huge fan of chicken but I was advised beef is best so I couldn’t say no. The bowl she served me was huge! I had to get myself one! Being on keto I didn’t eat the rice noodles but everything else was amazing, yes I even ate all the cow stomach, I did drink the bone broth first and the flavours were mind-blowing! Thank you Mrs Tran for the meal and tips! It was now time for me to make my own.. and of course being a chicken lover I wanted to make a chicken Pho (Pho ga) sounds like ‘Fuh ga’.
My Keto approved Chicken Pho
(Vietnamese chicken noodle soup)
Serves (4 small servings or 2 big pho bowl sized servings)
Ingredients – The Broth
- 1 chicken carcus cooked, browned or roasted (stufing removed) – any left over chicken bones are fine. Meat left on the bones is fine to.
- Cold Water, 2 litres / 0.5 gallon
- 1 Onion, cut into 3 pieces
- Fresh Ginger, 6 slices
- Salt, 2 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt
- 2 table spoons of cracked pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 carrots, cut into 3 pieces each
- 3 sticks of celery
- 1 clove of garlic (whole not crushed)
- Place the cooked chicken carcass/ cooked bones into your slow cooker and cover with cold water – filling the slow cooker 1/2 way.
- For the 1st 2 days of cooking the bone broth DO NOT add the vegetables, we are just focusing on slow cooking the bones and getting all the healthy goodness out of them. If you add your vegetables now they will deteriorate by day.
- Just add the chicken, water and salt and pepper.
- Set the slow cooker on low and leave cooking for 2 days. If you have a timer on your slow cooker they normally only go to 12 hours max so make sure your slow cooker doesn’t turn off.
- Keep checking on the chicken carcass and make sure the water is covering the bones at all times. After 12 hours the water should have changed to a pale brown colour and the house may be filled with a nice chicken smell, but keep cooking and checking the water level.
- DAY 2 – using a spoon mix the bones around so the dont stick to the base of the slow cooker. You can try the broth, it will have a very bland chicken taste but keep cooking away on low.
- DAY 3 the last 24 hours of cooking – at the start of day 3 you can now add in the vegetables (garlic, ginger, carrot, onion, celery and chili powder) add a sprinkle of more salt and pepper to. This is what will be giving the broth some yum flavour. You dont really need to slice up the vegetables just cut them into thirds and throw them in. Continue to cook on low for the final 24 hours DO NOT ADD SUGAR. Make sure there is enough water covering the ingredients, add a little more if required.
- By now the bones will be really soft and the meat will have fallen right off.
- After 24 hours turn off the slow cooker – your bone broth is complete. If you’re not in a rush let the broth cool for a bit before draining.
- Using a mesh strainer pour the broth slowly into a large bowl or jug. You should get around 2 cups of delicious liquid.Remove all the left over meat from the bones and add them to the broth, be very careful as the bones are very soft and some may have split causing tiny bones to be stuck in the meat.
- Your broth is now complete! Now the best part – taste the broth!
Now by this time it was 8pm and I was not having Pho for dinner so I simply covered the jug and placed it in the fridge for tomorrows dinner.
Putting the whole dish together – adding the noodles and garnish..
The noodles! Dont worry they are 0 carbs!
If you watch my video about how to make the Pho you will see that I was unsure whether I wanted to add noodles or not. Well when I saw that the end result only ended in 2 cups of bone broth I though hmm I need to add more to this meal so noodles it was! BUT they are not your everyday Pho rice noodles these noodle are called Slendier Noodles also known as ‘Miracle noodles, Healthy Noodle, Keto Noodle’etc so thats why I used them. They are made from purified water and konjac flour (5%). This one packet was only $4.00 AUS from my local Woolworths in the health food isle and there are many types too. Each packet is 2 serves which is exactly what i needed for this recipe.
Preparing the Slendier noodles
My number 1 tip – do not smell the noodles when you open them from the packet otherwise you may be put off eating them!.. your going to now arnt you!
So the packet will advise you to rinse off noodles in water and add them to your meal, but I like to dry them out and add a nice butter and pepper flavour to them to remove that odd smell.
- Using a strainer empty half of the packet out and quickly rise them under the tap.
- I dont like the sliminess of them so I washed them and dried them really well with a paper towel.
- Heat up a frying pan and a little butter and cracked pepper.
- Throw in the noodles and fry them on low heat for 5 minutes. This removes the slime feel of the noodles and gives them a butter flavour to.
- Once noodles are fried (not brown or burnt) take them off the heat and add them to your bowl of hot Pho bone broth.
A good bowl of Vietnamese Pho can always stand on its own merit. Pho itself tastes so good that for many, both the restaurant and home cooked varieties, there is no need for all the elaborate condiments and garnishes on top. However, Vietnamese dishes are meals typically served with lots of greens, herbs, vegetables and various other accompaniments such as dipping sauces, hot and spicy pastes, and flavor enhancements such as a squeeze of lime or lemon an guess what Pho is no exception. The dish is traditionally garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, Thai basil (not to be confused with sweet basil), fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon or lime wedges, bean sprouts, and cilantro (coriander leaves, I know you even love it or hate it). But I say add what ever you have in the fridge or what will suit your taste.. as long as its keto friendly. My garnishes are:
- 6 Boiled pork belly slices
- 1/2 cup of chopped broccoli
- 1/2 cup of chopped cauliflower
- 1 red chili
- salt and pepper
Now the fun part – making it look pretty! Remember if you are serving the Pho to guests make sure they try the broth first before adding the garnishes, or make them a little set up like this at the table where they garnish their own meal.
After 4 days the meal is finally ready to eat! Note no sauces were added, I only used every ingredient mentioned in this recipe. So now its your turn, enjoy making this beautiful healthy dish and savor all the flavours that you spent so long creating.
Final thought: Pho is a very time consuming dish to get that perfect delicious bone broth, but you are rewarded with such amazing flavours in one bowl that are so good for you. Im glad I added the Slendier noodles because they made the dish so filling. I will continue to use these noodles occasionally when wanting to create a dish that would normally contain rice noodles.. my next project is Keto Chicken Pad Thai! But for my spag bowl and carbonara Im going to stick to my zucchini noodles. This dish is worth making and I encourage everyone to have a go at creating it! Let me know how your keto Pho experience goes. Good luck!