Thursday, 7 January 2010

Asian Improvisation

I selected a few recipes to make in the first half of this month, mostly from Delicious magazine back-issues and my new Rick Stein book (Far Eastern Odyssey). I stocked up on meat, some vegetables, spices and SE Asian speciality ingredients, and then promptly ignored half the recipes.

So I had a chicken, and decided to create my own Asian broth rather than follow a recipe. It's a first attempt, and therefore somewhat less polished than my normal posts, but it's good enough for me to want to record it here for future reference.

1 medium chicken
1 stick celery, chopped
2 sprigs fresh green peppercorns
2-3 star anise
2 large lemongrass stems, peeled, topped and tailed, and chopped
2 large cloves garlic, squashed but not peeled
4-5 cloves
2cm stick cinnamon, crushed
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 large bay leaf
3-4cm root ginger, peeled and chopped
2-3 lesser galangal roots, chopped but not peeled
1 tbsp dried shrimp
2 limes
1 hot chilli (I used Scotch bonnet), halved
fish sauce
chestnut or shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 white cabbage (or pak choi, water spinach or other bland leafy vegetable), thinly sliced
1/2 packet rice noodles (I used pad thai)
2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
palm sugar or light brown sugar
sweet chilli sauce to serve

Put the chicken into a large pan. Add the celery, green and black pepper, spices, lemongrass, garlic, bay leaf, ginger and galangal, and dried shrimp, but not the chilli (unless you want it to be very hot). Add enough cold water to cover the chicken.

Bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, until the chicken meat starts to fall off the bone.

Remove the chicken carefully, set aside. Strain the soup, return to the pan. Add the chilli, continue simmering. Taste regularly, and when it has reached the desired level of hotness, remove the chilli.

Meanwhile, remove the meat from the chicken and shred with forks. Season the soup with fish sauce, the juice of the limes, and the sugar, to taste. Add the cabbage and mushrooms, and return the shredded meat to the pan. Simmer until the cabbage is almost tender, then add the noodles.

Serve when the noodles are tender, sprinkled with spring onion and chilli sauce.

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