Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Big Bowl of Phở Gà

Nick has been fighting a cold for what seems like weeks now.  Best way to fight a cold in my humble opinion, lots of liquids.  Lots of blankets.  Lots of rest.  A big huge brothy hydrating bowl of Phở Gà.  
A jazzed up version of the standard chicken noodle soup, it's the best warm, spicy, simple, complex, hearty soup, with lots of delicious broth.  Helpful in the cold months when the immune system is down.
You're going to need the bones of a previously cooked chicken.  If you don't have an extra chicken carcass, you can ask for a couple of pounds of chicken bones or soup bones from your butcher.
You'll need:
1 whole organic chicken, cut into quarters
1 left over chicken carcass (to make bone broth) +  4 1/2 - 5 liters of cold water 
2 onions, skin left on and quartered
3 1-inch slices of garlic, skin on, and smashed 
1 star anise
a pinch of fennel seeds
2 spoons of sugar, a big pinch of salt
a scant 1/4 cup of fish sauce (a bit less than 1/4 cup)
1 handful of brown rice noodles
two big handfuls of baby bok choy
Garnishes: lime wedges, sliced fried shallots, thinly sliced jalapenos, bean sprouts, cilantro, torn basil, sriracha, hoisin 
Place the quartered onions and smashed ginger into a pan and into the oven at high heat (450 degrees) until the onions are charred (20 minutes).  Fill a pot with 4.5 litres of water and bring to a boil.  Put the fresh chicken, the chicken carcass, sugar and salt, and onions and ginger into the hot water and bring to a boil again, and then lower the heat to simmer for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
 Take the cooked chicken out of the pot and put on a plate.  Pull the cooked chicken off the bones, and throw the bones and skin back in the pot.  Simmer the stock with the lid off to reduce the stock further, for about an hour and a half.
While you wait you can 1) fry some scallions and prepare garnishes and 2) cook the noodles according to package directions.
When the stock is ready pour it through a strainer into a bowl and pour the liquid back into the pot.  Add the fish sauce and the bok choy, heating the vegetable through until soft.
To serve, place a handful of cooked noodles, a scoop of bok choy, and as much chicken as you like into a bowl, and ladle the stock over top.  Garnish with all the fixin's, and eat while it's hot!  With chop sticks in your right hand and a big spoon in your left, do what you gotta do to get the noodles and the liquid into your mouth.
 dinner is served.
without any wine.
stay warm, and healthy.
bon appétit.  

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