Updated: Jan 31
I cooked a huge pot of pho the other day and had some left over broth. I did not want the broth to go to waste so I brainstormed what to do with it. Pho broth is so rich and full of flavor. After much thinking, I became curious on what would happen if I marinated different meats in the pho broth overnight. I began my experiment using chicken thighs and created a pho inspired popcorn chicken dish. I wanted the chicken to embody the essence and flavor profile of pho. The goal was to incorporate major components of pho into a bite sized piece of chicken. This was achieved not only through the marinading process of the chicken, but also by creating a unique dipping sauce using the major condiments of pho: sriracha and hoisin sauce. This was a fun recipe to make and I hope everyone loves this pho inspired take on popcorn chicken!
Cook Time: 6-8 hours
2-4 cups of pho broth. You can make your pho broth yourself (Click here for recipe) or go to your local pho restaurant and purchase pho broth
1½ lb chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
½ cup garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1 cup corn starch
Chopped cilantro and scallions, for garnish
Pho Dipping Sauce
½ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup sriracha sauce
½ cup mayo
1 tbsp water
1 tsp cilantro stems, chopped and crushed
1. Rinse chicken thighs and allow to dry. In a big bowl, add chicken thighs and 1 tbsp of salt to the pho broth. Make sure all the chicken is completely submerged in the broth. Allow to marinate in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
2. Drain the pho broth the chicken was marinating in. Season chicken with garlic powder. Mix well so that the chicken is evenly seasoned.
3. Massage corn starch into the chicken until it is completely covered. A sticky batter will eventually form and coat the chicken.
4. Heat a large pan at medium to high heat with enough oil to submerge the battered chicken. Test the heat of the oil by sprinkling corn starch into the oil. If it bubbles immediately, then the oil is ready.
5. Slowly add the chicken into the heated oil. Allow to fry until the chicken becomes a golden brown. This happens quickly, so be vigilant to prevent the chicken from burning. Be sure not to crowd the pan. Fry in multiple batches if needed. Once chicken is fully cooked, allow chicken to rest on a rack or paper towels to allow excess oil drain.
6. For serving, garnish with lime juice, cilantro and scallions.
Pho Dipping Sauce
1. Mix all ingredients into a large bowl until evenly blended
I was pleasantly surprised how much the chicken retained the flavors from the pho broth. I could definitely appreciate hints of cinnamon, star anise and coriander from the broth that infused into the chicken. The ingredients that really elevated the dish was the dipping sauce and lime juice. Those components made the dish more cohesive by pulling all the flavors together. I highly recommend not substituting the dark thigh meat for white meat as the dark meat is juicier and more tender. Next time, I will experiment with tapioca starch in hopes of getting an even crispier batter for the chicken. The number of aprons that I will award this dish is...