Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cooks' Challenge: Vietnamese Chicken Pho


The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

I've never had Vietnamese Pho. I like noodle soups though so I thought this is a good challenge to try. This is a very easy dish to prepare. The "tough" part was toasting the spices, which was actually really easy.

The chicken pho tastes like Koay Teow T'ng (Malaysian street fare: noodle soup) except it has a cleaner taste. All I was thinking while eating it was, "this is such a healthy dish". I used fresh koay teow (flat rice noodles) instead of dry because they were easily available. I also substituted soy sauce for fish sauce, so that probably accounts for the oh-so-slightly bland taste to the soup.
Other than that, I'd say this is a great healthy dish.

Here's the recipe.

Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

Servings: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)

Accompaniments:

2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice

Directions:

1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.

2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.

4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.

5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.

7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.

8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

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