Pho Gà Vietnamese Noodle Soup with Chicken… and Veggies too

Another rainy day. Regardless, I’m hitting the Taste of DC to chow on some of the best eats in the DC area with 70 restaurants like El Tamarindo, Crepe Love Truck, Ben’s Chili Bowl, the Burger Joint, and Pho Wheels offering their best dishes. Before I dive into a day that promises to be filled with grilled, fried, sizzled goodness, I wanted to post this for my friend Angela. Ange – if you make this, I’m coming over.

Happy eating!

Pho Ga


  • 1 Bag thin rice noodles
  • 1 Whole organic chicken, 3-4 pounds
  • 4 Quarts water
  • Ginger, 3-inch piece unpeeled
  • 2 Whole onions, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 2 Tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 4 Whole cloves
  • 2 Whole star anise
  • 2 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons rock sugar (You can also use plain sugar)
  • 1/4 Cup fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 1 Bunch cilantro, bundled and tied

If you want the traditional pho ga, don’t add the vegetables below. I like pho with veggies and usually add the following:

  • 1 Zucchini, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 Cup white mushrooms, cut in half
  • 7 Ounces enoki mushrooms, roots cut and discarded
  • 1 Cup tofu, cubed


  • 1 Bunch cilantro
  • 1 Red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Jalapenos, sliced diagonally
  • 2-3 Scallions, chopped
  • 3 Cups mung bean sprouts, trimmed and rinsed
  • 4 Sprigs fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Lime, cut into four wedges
  • Sriracha hot sauce to taste
  • Hoisin sauce to taste

In a large bowl, add 3 cups of ice and enough water to submerge the ice. Set aside.

Place the onion and ginger on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes or until charred. I keep the oven door open and flip on the light to make sure they char evenly and don’t burn.  Once the outside is charred, quickly dunk the onion and ginger in ice water.  Scrape off the charred skin and cut the ginger into thick slices.  Set aside.

Cut the chicken breast meat into big thick pieces. Cut the legs and wings and the rest of the chicken into 3-inch pieces. Rinse all pieces in cold water and place in a large stockpot. Add 4 quarts of cold water, onions, ginger, coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise. Turn heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 40 minutes.

Using a fine mesh, drain the broth into another large pot. Discard everything except for the chicken  meat. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it. Discard the bones and fatty pieces. Add the shredded chicken, sugar, fish sauce, salt and cilantro to the broth. Continue to simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary.

If using vegetables, add zucchini, mushrooms and tofu. Simmer covered or another 5 minutes.

While the broth is simmering, soak rice noodles in warm water for 5 minutes. When the broth is almost ready, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Putting It All Together
Add the noodles in a large bowl. Sprinkle with scallions. Ladle enough broth to submerge the noodles. Serve immediately.

I arrange the toppings on a large platter for each person to garnish their own soup. My sisters and I heap on all of the toppings, add at least a tablespoon of sriracha sauce and another tablespoon of hoisin. We also use one lime wedge.

Some people like pho ga without all the garnishes and sriracha, but I say bring on the heat and the all the flavors that make my taste buds dance.

Serves 4


DC 101 Chili Cook Off

DC 101 was my first chili cook-off, and this was the recipe I entered. I didn’t place but that didn’t stop us from having a great time.

Chili Cook-off Chili



  • 8 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 pounds bottom round beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 Pound pork loin, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 Jalapenos, sliced
  • 1 Habanero pepper, seeded and cubed
  • 1 12-ounce pale ale beer
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cayenne
  • 1 7-ounce can chipotle peppers, chopped (including sauce)
  • 2 Tablespoons Adobo
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 Cans stewed tomatoes (chili-style)
  • 1 Can red kidney beans
  • 1 Can black beans
  • 3 Cups chicken stock
  • 3-6 Tablespoons Tabasco or Frank’s hot sauce (Or as much as you can handle)


Heat large, heavy bottom pot or skillet and add 2 tablespoons oil. Stir in the beef and pork. Season with salt and pepper. Drain excess liquid. Add the rest of the oil, garlic and onions. Saute until the bottom of the pan becomes crusty. Add the beer, onions, and peppers, and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, cayenne, chipotle peppers, Adobo, brown sugar, salt and black pepper and stir. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, beans, chicken stock and Tabasco sauce.  Bring to a boil. If the chili is too thick, add 1-2 cups water. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese, guacamole, chips and whatever else you like with chili. I sometimes serve it over spaghetti and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.


Deji Bul Gogi, Spicy Grilled Korean Pork

Deji bul gogi, spicy grilled Korean pork, is usually served as a side dish or ban chon. Deji means pig. Bul means fire. Gogi means meat. Literally, deji bul gogi means pig fire meat. Pig… Fire… Meat…

Add kick to your dinner with easy pig fire meat.

Happy eating!

umma's spicy grilled pork (dak gui)


  • 1 Pound pork (I buy tenderloin that’s already trimmed, sliced. It’s about $7 at the Korean market.)
  • 1/2 Cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Asian pear, pureed
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons dark sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 8 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons kochu jahng (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 2 Tablespoons kochu garu (Korean hot pepper powder)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Bunch scallions, chopped in 2-inch lengths
  • Vegetable oil, for the grill

Condiments and Sides

  • Korean miso paste
  • Kochu jahng (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 3-4 Korean green finger peppers, thinly sliced
  • Scallions, shredded
  • Kimchi, of course
  • 1 Large head red-leaf or green-leaf lettuce, leaves separated

In a large glass bowl with a lid (you can also use a large Ziploc bag), ginger, kochu jahng, kochu garu, and black pepper. Add the slices of pork loin and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate the pork for at least 3 hours. Marinate overnight for best results.

Heat the grill. Lightly brush the grate with vegetable oil. Remove the tenderloin from the bowl or bag and place in the center of grate. Discard the marinade. Cover and grill for 12 to 15 minutes, turning every 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. You want the internal temperature to be 140 degrees F.

Transfer the grilled pork to 1 end of a platter and arrange the lettuce leaves on the other end. Serve the pork with the suggested condiments, rice and other bon chan (Korean side dishes).