Comfort cooking

Covid-19 stay-home recipe: Healthy and tasty noodle soup

The Vietnamese-style chicken noodle soup is wholesome and flavourful, with broth made with daikon and kampung chicken, and brown rice noodles.
The Vietnamese-style chicken noodle soup is wholesome and flavourful, with broth made with daikon and kampung chicken, and brown rice noodles.ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Wondering what to cook today? In this daily series, STFood Online Editor Hedy Khoo whips up easy eats to try at home

With its flavourful broth, this dish may change your mind if you are not a fan of soupy foods or healthy eating.

I love the slippery yet slightly chewy texture of the brown rice Vietnamese noodles - these are not commonly available if you dine out.

Daikon imparts a natural sweetness to the dish. Kampung chicken has a firmer texture and holds up well for dishes like these.

The broth can be a little tedious to prepare, but your effort will be well rewarded. Plus, the upside to cooking for yourself is knowing exactly what goes into the broth.

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VIETNAMESE-STYLE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

INGREDIENTS FOR BROTH

1 kampung chicken (1.2kg)

6.2 litres of water

3 unpeeled yellow onions (450g), halved

60g unpeeled ginger, halved

6 whole shallots (50g)

1 daikon (1.6kg), peeled, cut into 3cm-thick rounds

8 kaffir lime leaves

1½ Tbs salt

2 pieces of cinnamon stick (4cm in length)

1½ star anise

7 cloves

½ tsp white peppercorns

1 tsp fennel

1 Tbs coriander seeds

METHOD

1. Cut chicken. Discard head. Set aside wings, feet and carcass. Refrigerate breast.

2. Add feet, wings and carcass in 1.2 litres boiling water. Boil for five minutes until there is no visible blood. Discard the water and rinse the chicken bones. Set aside.

3. Place halved onions, ginger and shallots on a foil-lined baking tray and grill on high heat for 24 minutes, turning them over midway. Remove the charred skin and peel the ginger.

4. In a sturdy pot, place daikon pieces, chicken bones, grilled onion, ginger and shallots and six kaffir lime leaves. Add 5 litres of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Remove scum and excess fat.

5. Add 1½ Tbs salt. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours.

6. Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and peppercorns to a frying pan over low heat. Roast for one minute. Add fennel and coriander seeds and roast for 15 seconds. Cool spices and set aside in a spice pouch.

7. Once the chicken has simmered for 1½ hours, uncover and skim off scum. Place legs, breast and spice pouch into stock. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep covered for another 20 minutes. Use a skewer to pierce the thickest part of the chicken leg. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked.

8. Remove legs and breast and plunge them into bowl of iced water for five minutes. Debone and shred meat. Set aside.

9. Return bones to the stock pot. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

10. Strain the stock using a muslin cloth. Discard stock ingredients.

11. Bring the stock to a simmer. Add two kaffir lime leaves. Add salt to taste.

Makes 2.4 litres of broth

INGREDIENTS FOR NOODLES

2 litres of water

2 tsp salt

360g dried brown rice pho, soaked until soft

90g beansprouts

5 to 6 Tbs fish sauce

2 red onions (300g), sliced and soaked in water

2 kaffir lime leaves, de-stemmed, shredded

80g fresh coriander

100g spring onion, sliced to 2cm long

100g Thai basil

3 red finger chillies, finely sliced

METHOD

1. In a pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add 2 tsp salt and bring to a boil again.

2. Boil one to two servings of noodles in a metal noodle strainer for four minutes. Add beansprouts into strainer to blanch them.

3. Rinse noodles and beansprouts briefly in water that is at room temperature, then transfer them into serving bowls. Season with 2 tsp fish sauce. Place four to five slices of chicken and three slices of onion on top of the noodles. Pour 400ml of the hot broth over the noodles.

4. Garnish with shredded kaffir lime leaves, fresh coriander, spring onion, Thai basil and chilli.

5. Serve with fish sauce on the side.

Serves five to six

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2020, with the headline 'Healthier but no less tasty noodle soup'. Print Edition | Subscribe