Pho: An easy week night meal, pho-sho

(Note: Pronunciation corrections here!)

Mr. T may or may not have sung a pho song to the tune of
Morris Day and the Time’s “Jungle Love.” Pho-ee oh-ee oh.

The other day I asked Mr. T what he wanted for dinner. Having been on a mighty cooking binge lately (see here, here and here), I needed some ideas. I expected to hear something like “stir fry” or “BBQ chicken” or “risotto.” When he said “Pho,” I was shocked. There’s nothing wrong with pho, don’t get me wrong, it’s just not on the normal rotation. Or something I’ve ever tried in real life except for from the salad bar at Fresh Choice, and I don’t think that counts. Pho. Huh.

On the way to Safeway, I googled it and the simplest description is Vietnamese noodle soup. Modest ingredients make an absolutely addicting, flavorful and–get this–healthy meal! Working from a couple recipes (see here and here), I put together a tasty (although I’m sure not completely authentic) soup cheating slightly with boxed chicken stock since I didn’t have four hours to make my own.

Front, from left: garlic, ginger and lemon grass.

NSFD Ranking *

– 1 package thin Chinese* egg noodles
– 8-12 cups chicken or beef stock
– Tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce
– Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
– Tablespoon minced lemon grass
– 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
– 1 bunch green onions, chopped

– Carrots, chopped

– Mushrooms, sliced
– Optional: Sriracha
– 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
– 2 cups bok choy, chopped
– Bean sprouts

Garnish with cilantro, basil, thin jalapeno slices, sriracha.

1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
2. Combine stock, fish/soy sauce, ginger, lemon grass, garlic, onions, carrots, mushrooms and sriracha in a large pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes or so.
3. Add chicken, bok choy and bean sprouts. Cook for five minutes until warmed through. (For crispier bean sprouts, use as garnish and do not simmer.)
4. To serve, place noodles in individual bowls, top with soup, add garnishes and enjoy!

* I could only find Chinese egg noodles and thick Japanese rice noodles at Safeway. I would guess there are specific pho noodles at Asian markets or specialty food stores.


  • To work with lemongrass, remove the hard outer leaves and chop the soft, inner white lower leaves/bulb. Mash a little with a mortal and pestle to bring out the flavor. Save the green tops, bending/smashing them a little and add them to the soup like bay leaves. Remove before serving.
  • The addition of mushrooms and carrots reminded me of Thai tom yum gai soup. I don’t know that those are traditional pho elements but they were languishing in my fridge and made a nice addition.
  • To save time, you can use rotisserie chicken. I chopped up a couple chicken breasts and sauteed them with garlic salt, pepper and ponzu (citrusy soy sauce).
  • Eyeball your ingredients and adjust to your liking. I used 8 cups chicken stock and then a couple additional cups of beef stock to have a sufficient broth-to-meat/veggie/noodle ratio.




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