You will be surprised at how flavourful the broth is. I love the slippery yet slightly chewy texture of the brown rice Vietnamese noodles.
Daikon imparts a natural sweetness to the dish. Kampung chicken has a firmer texture and holds up well for dishes like this.
The broth can be a little tedious to prepare, but your efforts will be well rewarded and the upside to cooking for yourself is knowing what goes into the broth.
Ingredients (2.4 litres of broth)
1 kampung chicken (1.2kg)
1 tsp salt
1.2 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
5 litres of water
1½ tbsp salt
2 pieces of cinnamon stick (4cm in length)
1½ star anise
½ tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp fennel
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1. Cut chicken. Discard head. Set aside wings, feet, carcass. Refrigerate breast.
2. Add feet, wings and carcass in 1.2 litres boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes until there is no visible blood. Discard the water and rinse the chicken bones. Set aside.
3. Place halved onions, ginger, shallots on foil-lined baking tray and grill on high heat for 24 minutes, turning over midway. Remove charred skin and peel ginger.
4. In a sturdy pot, place daikon pieces, chicken bones, grilled onion, ginger, shallots and 6 kaffir lime leaves. Add 5 litres of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Remove scum and excess fat.
5. Add 1½ tbsp of salt. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours.
6. Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and peppercorns to frying pan on low heat. Roast for 1 minute. Add fennel, 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 skewer to pierce thickest part of the chicken leg. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked.
8. Remove legs and breast, plunge them into bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. Debone and shred meat. Set aside.
9. Return bones to the stock pot. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
10. Strain stock using a muslin cloth. Discard stock ingredients.
11. Bring the stock to a simmer. Add in 2 kaffir lime leaves. Add salt to taste.
COOKING THE NOODLES
360g dried brown rice pho, soaked until soft
2 litres of water
2 tsp salt
2 red onions (300g), sliced, soaked in water
2 kaffir lime leaves, destemmed, shredded
80g fresh coriander
100g spring onion, sliced into 2cm lengths
100g Thai basil
3 red finger chillies, finely sliced
5 to 6 tbsp fish sauce
1. In a pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add 2 tsp of salt and bring to a boil again.
2. Boil one to two servings of noodles in a metal noodle strainer for 4 minutes. Add beansprouts into strainer to blanch them.
3. Rinse noodles and beansprouts briefly in room temperature water, then transfer them into serving bowls. Season with 2 teaspoons of fish sauce. Place 4 to 5 slices of chicken and 3 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.
This article was first published in The New Paper.