One cool aspect of food blogging is that someone in the publishing world might see your blog and think you’ve got the skill, creativity, chops etc..to write and maybe even photograph your own cookbook. There have been several bloggers who are working on, or have cookbooks published, and one of them just so happens to be this month’s Daring Cooks host, Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. This gal’s got mad talent, and her blog is a joy to ogle, drool over and read, so I can completely understand why she’s now the author of a cookbook that’ll most definitely sell like hotcakes. Congrats, Jaden!
The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. If you’re a lover of Asian food, this book is right up your alley. If you’re not, it’ll make you one! *Not so subliminal message* Buy this Phoking book! 😀 Thanks for sharing these recipes with us, Jaden!
As you’ve probably figured out by the title of this entry, we’re making soup, but not just any soup, Vietnamese Chicken Pho soup. Pho is pronounced ‘fuh’, so you just KNOW I’m going to have a field day with this. To say this soup is fanphokingtastic is an understatment. This soup is fanphokingtastic and fanphokingtabulous. We were given the option of making the chicken aka Pho Ga soup (I’m assuming ‘Ga’ means chicken??), or Jaden’s beef version..not to mention seafood, pork or vegetarian/vegan if desired. I decided to stick with the chick, but I’ll most definitely be trying her beef version, especially after smelling, tasting, almost wanting to bathe in, the chicken version.
Straight from the mouth of Jaden – So what is Vietnamese Pho? Well, it’s like the most insanely delicious noodle soup popular in Vietnam. The broth is simmered for hours and hours with either beef knuckle/leg bone or with a whole chicken. Other accompaniments include ribbons of rice noodles, fresh herbs like cilantro or basil, a wedge of lime or lemon, fresh bean sprouts and fresh sliced chilies if desired.
What makes Pho so different than any other type of noodle soup is the spices that go into the simmering broth. Warm spices like coriander, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fresh ginger transform an ordinary broth into a very authentic Vietnamese Pho.
Jaden also gave us a choice of making her quick version of Pho Ga or making her long simmering pot of homemade stock ‘version’. Since I had several quarts of homemade chicken stock in my freezer, I decided to make the quick version. This frozen stock is the bee’s knees (first time I ever used that phrase..swear on it), and most definitely Bubby’s version..so I suppose you could call my Pho Ga Jewishnamese Penicillin.
What makes this soup so special, as mentioned above, whether it be the long, simmering version, or the quick version, is the spices and aromatics. OH.MY.GOD, the smell of this soup simmering will you bring you to your bee’s knees (second time).You char an onion and a knob of ginger, scraping off the charred skins, and toast some star anise, coriander seeds and cloves, then dump them into a pot along with sugar, fish sauce, a whole chicken and water (long, simmering version) or chicken stock and one whole chicken breast (shorty). Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and VOILA, phoking heaven with lots of phoking accoutrements and a damn good cure for my cold (on it’s last legs, but still annoying).
Finally, Jaden also has a great recipe for chocolate wontons which we were asked to make along with the soup. The fun part is..whoever comes up with the most unique, creative sweet wonton filling, will win a copy of her new cookbook.
Well, IS THERE ANY AWARD FOR THE LEAST UNIQUE AND CREATIVE WONTON FILLING?? If so, I WIN!
I took a Snickers bar, chopped it into pieces and that’s my filling. Gotta admit, it was really phoking good! ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, you know me..I couldn’t just sit with that, so I also made some unique PB & J (My spiced plum chutney from the Dosa challenge, hot chili peanuts and coconut) mini eggroll wontons at the last minute (try 10 minutes ago). Now, I feel better. Disturbing, huh? Truth is..they sucked, but I tried.
As always, please check out the Daring Cooks Blogroll for all the cool Pho’s and super creative sweet wontons. I saw some in the Daring Kitchen forum, and I know one thing for sure..Phogeddaboutit, I ‘ain’t’ winning squat! lol
Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Soup)
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 LIKE the tails on the bean sprouts, so I chose to leave them on.
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)
High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling
1.In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
2.On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down witha point toward you, like a diamond.
3.Place 1 piece of chocolate near the top end of the wrapper.
4.Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.
5.Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
6.Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces.
7.Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
8.In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.
9.Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.
10.Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.
OK, now I need to inject a little Halloween into this post, since Halloween just so happens to be my favorite holiday of all time. I made you all a lovely, little spread of finger foods, but not just any finger food, actual FINGER food!
Crispy Cheddar Cracker Witch’s Fingers (Like Cheez-Itz, but better!)`
Severed Witch and Human Finger Cookies
(I used red tinted melted white chocolate for the blood, instead of jam, and colored the witch’s finger dough green)
Head on over to my spooky story and MORE about these fabulous FINGER foods over at The Daring Kitchen!