The Daring Cooks challenge for October was hosted by Jaden of The Steamy Kitchen. She challenged us with a recipe from her new cookbook for Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho. We also had the option of using the long version of the recipe from her blog which entailed making your own stock instead of using canned. That's what I ended up doing, but I'll post the "quickie" version here.
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)
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
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.
I made my own stock and honestly I'm not sure it was worth the effort I put into it. I've made chicken stock before but doing it the way suggested here left me with a rather bland tasting stock... which I found strange considering all of the various spices and such involved. We added some salt when we served it and that helped but when I first tasted it I thought "WAAAAAHHHH! All that time and energy wasted!" Maybe if I'd let it simmer longer... or used less water... I'm not really sure what happened. Once we added in the goodies at the end it worked out but I don't think I'd eat this soup without the additions. My other observation is that fish sauce smells unpleasant. I'm glad it didn't taste like it smelled. I think this is a recipe worth trying, but like I said I'd probably make stock my normal way instead of this way and then add the spices like in the quickie version.
As a nice little twist, we also had an add-on challenge for making Dessert Won Tons. We could decide what we wanted inside the won tons as long as it was sweet. I went nuts with marshmallows, peanut butter, and bananas. Marshmallows do crazy things when put under intense heat. It's pretty amazing. I only made a few of these because they were fried and my arteries are probably cross with me for all the frying on challenge recipes I've been doing lately. They were good though!