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Pho Ga  - Vietnamese Chicken Soup With Rice Noodles 

1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds 
2 pounds chicken wings 
1 onion, cut in half 
3 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced thinly 
10 whole star anise 
6 whole cloves 
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half 
1 t black peppercorns 
3 T fish sauce 

1 pound wide rice noodles (banh pho) 
2 c mung bean sprouts 
1 large bunch Thai, holy or sweet basil 
1 lime, cut into wedges 
2 green chiles, sliced thinly 
4 scallions, sliced thinly 
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves 
Chili sauce 
Additional fish sauce 

Cut the chicken in half lengthwise along the breastbone and backbone with a sharp knife or poultry shears. For a more flavorful broth, cut into the bones of the wings to expose the marrow. Combine the chicken with the onion, ginger, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and 10 cups cold water. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes, skimming foam that rises. Add 2 more cups cold water and return to a simmer. Cover partially and continue cooking until the chicken meat is no longer pink but still very tender, about 30 minutes. Do not overcook chicken, or it will be too dry and stringy. 

Using two large spoons, remove the chicken halves and set them on a large plate to cool slightly. With two forks, remove the meat in large pieces from the bones and set aside in a bowl. Return the bones to the stockpot and continue simmering at least 1 hour more, preferably 3 hours. When the meat is cool enough to handle, tear it into large, bite-size strips and set aside. 

Meanwhile, soak the rice noodles in a large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes then drain in a colander. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and return to a full boil, cook until noodles are no longer raw but still quite firm to the bite, about 2 minutes. Drain in the colander and rinse very well with cold water to stop the cooking and to remove excess starch. Toss the noodles to extract as much water as possible. 

Divide the noodles among large serving bowls. Arrange the bean sprouts, basil, lime and chile on a large plate. 

Place a fine mesh strainer (or a colander lined with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth) over a large bowl or another large pot. Strain the broth, pressing the solids gently to extract as much liquid as possible and discard solids. Return stock to a full boil, add the chicken meat and 3 T fish sauce. When the soup returns to a boil, quickly ladle the broth and meat over the bowls of noodles. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro. 

Serve immediately, offering the garnishes, chili sauce and additional fish sauce at the table for guests to add according to taste. Serves 6 

Reading a pho menu 
Use this key to menu items and ingredients to make ordering pho a snap. 

Pho (pronounced fuh) -- Beef noodle soup 
Bo -- beef 
Tai -- rare beef, in thin slices 
Chín -- brisket 
Chín nac -- well-done brisket 
Ḅ viên -- meat balls 
Nam -- well-done flank, or sinewy beef 
Gau -- fatty flank steak 
Gân -- tendon 
Sách -- tripe 
Ng̣ -- cilantro 
Dac biet -- special combination, usually meaning rare beef, brisket, flank, tripe, tendon and beef balls 
Xe lua -- extra-large bowl 
Pho ga -- chicken noodle soup 
Banh pho -- flat rice noodles used in pho, sold dry or fresh