I wrote up my matzah ball pho recipe for The Nosher. Head over there to read the full article, and check out other great recipes :)
Matzo Ball Pho
For the broth:
2 medium unpeeled yellow onions, halved
1 large 4”-5” piece of ginger, cut in half lengthwise
5 quarts cold water
1 4-5 lb. chicken, cut into parts
½ lb. chicken wings
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon rock sugar or Turbinado (raw) sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons fish sauce or tamari
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
For the toppings:
1 large bunch of fresh Thai basil
2-3 limes cut into wedges
3 cups mung bean sprouts
2 Fresno chilies or jalapenos, sliced thin
Hoisin sauce, to taste
Sambal oelek (garlic chili sauce), to taste
Sriracha, to taste
For the matzo balls:
1 cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup oil schmaltz or oil (vegetable or safflower)
¼ cup minced scallion
For the broth:
Char your onions and ginger by either placing them on a baking sheet under a broiler for 8-10 minutes, or by charring them over a gas flame on your stovetop for a few minutes on each side. The onions and ginger should be nicely charred but still firm - this essential step will deepen the broth’s flavor. Once the onions and ginger are charred, remove the skin from the onion. Rinse the onion and ginger, and use a small knife to scrape off excess charred bits to prevent your broth from getting murky.
Cut your chicken into parts: separating the breasts, legs, wings, and backbone. This will insure that your chicken cooks evenly and that the breasts will not become dry and tough when simmered.
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the cinnamon, anise, and coriander until lightly browned and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spices.
Add the onion, ginger, and chicken to a large pot. Fill the pot with 5 quarts of water. Bring the water to a simmer; skim the impurities as they rise to the top.
After twenty minutes of simmering, or once they’re cooked through, remove the chicken breasts and allow them to cool.
Add the toasted spices, salt, and sugar to the pot. Continue to gently simmer the mixture for 1 hour.
Remove the remaining chicken parts and strain the liquid through a fine meshed sieve. Bring the liquid back to a simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter. This step will further deepen the broth’s flavor. While the broth is simmering, shred the chicken meat and reserve for serving.
Once reduced, turn off the heat and add the fish sauce or tamari to the broth. Taste, and add additional seasoning if desired.
For the matzo balls:
While the soup is simmering, in a large bowl whisk together the matzo meal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the beaten egg and schmaltz/oil. Add the scallions. Mix everything together until just combined. Do not over-mix. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes, and up to a day ahead.
Form the matzo ball mixture into even-sized balls, you can determine the size based on your preference, but know that they will double in size when cooked. It makes it easier to form the matzo balls if you rub a little oil on your hands while forming them.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lower to a simmer and gently drop the matzo balls into simmering water. Place the lid on the pot and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Once cooked, matzo balls are best stored in their cooking liquid.
To serve the matzo ball pho:
Add the shredded chicken, raw sliced onion and scallion to a bowl. Ladle hot broth into the bowl. Add the matzo balls to the soup.
Serve along with basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, hoisin, and hot sauces. Allow people to garnish and customize their pho to their liking.