Pho to Battle the Flu

Just when you thought we might get out of winter unscathed, flu season is here. Winter’s chill is sticking around at least a bit longer, and it’s the perfect time to strengthen your immune system with a few antioxidant-rich foods to help keep the virus away from you.

Phở GÝ  is the perfect food for fending off illness. Packed with onions, ginger and garlic, this chicken soup packs a powerful punch. It’s not your grandmother’s chicken soup, that’s for sure.

Chef Helene An’s Pho ingredients include:

Onions: Recognized by WHO, the onion has the ability to help relieve symptoms of the flu such as coughs, congestion, and respiratory infections
Ginger: In traditional Asian medicine, ginger has been used as one of the principal herbs to treat a “cold” as it improves blood flow and decreases symptoms of respiratory infections such as the common cold
Garlic: Serves as an antiviral and antibacterial on contact, as shown in many studies, and is ALSO an immune system booster in its own right

In combination, the herbs and spices elemental to Chef Helene’s pho create an intense bodily heat, which results in a natural outbreak of sweat, which in turn rids the body of toxins and other flu symptoms.

Phở Gݠ
for the soup
3-4 pound organic free-range chicken with offal, and 2-3 pound of chicken bones
1 large onion peeled and cut in half
8 large cloves of garlic
65 grams of fresh ginger sliced in half lengthwise (about 3”³ length)
roots and stems of 1 bunch of cilantro
3 whole star anise
2”³x1”³ piece of cassia bark (a.k.a. Saigon Cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon cracked white pepper
80g yellow rock sugar (light brown sugar also works)
2 and 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)

for serving
20 ounces dried phở noodles or fresh rice noodles
1/2 small onion, very thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, fresh lemon leaves, basil, bean sprouts
4 serrano chili peppers sliced thin (bird chilies or jalapenos work too)

Wash the chicken inside and out, including any offal it comes with and set aside.
Using a broiler, torch, or a gas stove, burn the cut side of the onion, both sides of
the ginger and both sides of the garlic. If you have some wire mesh you can set it
on the gas stove for the garlic, otherwise a torch works great for these. You want
the surface to be about 50% black as it adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the soup
without making it bitter.

Put the neck, gizzards, heart and liver inside the chicken. Place the chicken breast
side up and the chicken bones into a stock pot just a little larger than the chicken,
then put all the other ingredients for the soup around the chicken. Add water until
the top of the breast is almost covered. Cover with a lid and bring the water to a
boil over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, skim off the excess fat and
impurities on the top then turn the stove to low heat (do not remove the lid), and
poach the chicken for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and set it aside to cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove
the offal from the cavity and set aside. Carve all the meat off the bones and return
the bones to the stock. Simmer the stock for another 1 1/2 hours. Slice up the
chicken meat and offal and put it in the fridge.

Soak the dried pho noodles in warm water for about 30 minutes to rehydrate them.
Chop up your condiments and have them ready.

When your broth is done, strain it through a fine mesh sieve and skim off any excess
oil. Taste the soup for salt and add more as necessary.
Bring the stock to a boil and in a separate pot bring water to a boil to rehydrated
noodles, will cook in a matter of seconds, so a couple swishes is all it takes. Split the
noodles into bowls and top with chicken, offal, onions, scallion and cilantro to taste,
then ladle on the hot broth.

5-6 bowls of phở

Recipe and photo courtesy of Chef Helene An

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