I was pleasantly surprised and a little fearful when I learned that Jaden of Steamy Kitchen would be the host for this months Daring Cooks assignment. I have been reading Jaden’s blog for quite some time now and totally love it!! She is funny, writes great stories, makes beautiful photographs and well, the recipes are the ones you should try for yourself!!
The fearful therefore was because I feared she would give us a recipe that would be incredibly difficult to make, but I was then – again – pleasantly surprised when I found out that the challenge would be to make Chicken Pho, a classical Vietnamese noodlesoup. I love Vietnamese food in general and I think noodle soups are one of the best inventions around! We went to Vietnam in 2007 and were blown away by the country, the people and the food. There is something about Vietnamese food that makes it so delicious. I’ve never been able to truly recreate the exact taste of the food you can get there, so now having the chance to actually use the correct spices and such, was fantastic.
I made the broth using cubes as I didn’t have time to make ‘real’ chicken broth, but I will for sure have a go at Jaden’s longer version when I am a little less stressed for time. But even with this broth the taste was absolutely amazing! We both totally loved it. The recipe was quite easy to follow and really doesn’t take a lot of time. Sure you have to wait untill the broth is done cooking and all the flavors have gone into the chicken and into the broth, but you can do other things in that time.
This is definitely, definitely a recipe that we will be making again and again. Tom especially liked the fact that he could basically add the things he wanted at the table and having all those little bowls filled with fresh greens on the table made it look very… well, very asian I guess… 🙂
Vietnamese chicken pho
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)
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)
For the 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
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
- 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.
- In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
- Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
- Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
- Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
- Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
- Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
Now on to the wonton wrappers…
I had only ever made dumplings once for a Daring Cooks challenge, way back in June but that involved making our own wrappers, so I was happy that for the dessert wrappers we could use storebought wonton wrappers.
So I went to the local toko to see if they had wonton wrappers and upon my question the girl behind the counter says ; no, we don’t sell those… I ask her if she knows where I would be able to find them and she tells me she doesn’t know… to then proceed to tell me that she does have wonton ‘sheets’… which are – in fact – the wrappers I was looking for… Now where did that go wrong in the translation… 🙂 ?
It was funnier when it happened, haha… 🙂
Making these was really easy. I opted to go for a sort of little pouch rather then the shape that Jaden had made. The reason for that being that I wasn’t so good in getting rid of the air inside the wonton’s with fabulous effects once you put them in the oil. They puffed up to enormous heights! So far that I was afraid they would pop open! I liked the shape of these little ones much better and they tasted fabulous too.
The only thing I found was that you have to eat them straight away. An hour after baking they become a bit too chewy, while fresh they are wonderfully crunchy. I could have been a little bit more creative with the filling, but due to time constraints wanted to stick to the chocolate suggestion from Jaden.
This is so easy to make however that I am sure I will be making those again in the future!
All in all a very successful Daring Cooks, with two fabulous recipes that are both going to be repeated and repeated and repeated!