Chef John Ash’s Asian Noodles
February 11, 2021
The world of Asian noodles is vast. Each country/cuisine has its specialties often driven by street food vendors. Every imaginable ingredient is used to make noodles. Not only wheat as we know from our European roots but sweet potato, yam, rice, cassava, buckwheat, mung bean, rice, potato, fish paste and many more. You or I could write volumes about them. Here are some of my favorites.
HANOI CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP (PHO GA)
Serves 4 – 6
This is a poultry variation on the famous beef driven PHO soup of Vietnam. It is a simple soup to make but depends on the flavorful broth. It illustrates their love of fresh herbs and greens in that part of the world. You could substitute any green or herb that you like. Maybe time to go to an Asian market and see what’s there!
8 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
4 whole star anise
4 whole cloves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or to taste)
3 tablespoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce (Nuoc Mam),or to taste
2/3 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
2/3 cup fresh mint and/or tender Thai basil leaves
1 pound chicken breasts or thighs, bone in and skin off
12 ounces baby bok choy, chopped
4 ounces thin rice noodles
1/4 cup finely slivered on the bias scallions
Vietnamese hot sauce or other hot sauce such as Sriracha plus Hoisin sauce, bean sprouts, lime wedges, thinly sliced Thai Bird chilies.
In a medium stockpot, bring chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, sugar, fish sauce, 1⁄3 cup each of the cilantro and mint leaves, and the chicken. Bring to a simmer, cover, and continue to gently simmer for 10 – 12 minutes. Off heat, allow the chicken to cool covered for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile soak the noodles in hot water for 15 minutes or so until they have softened. If necessary, cook them in lightly salted boiling water until just tender, a minute or so. Drain and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking.
Remove chicken and discard bones. Slice each breast thinly and set aside. Strain broth and return to pot and bring to a simmer. Add bok choy and simmer for 2 minutes or so.
Divide noodles and chicken among six bowls. Pour hot broth and bok choy over and top with the scallions, remaining cilantro and mint and accompaniments to your taste.