Friday, October 15, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Back in the day, I was a member of Tuesdays with Dorie. I loved the group, but my waistline and my schedule couldn't keep up with the weekly posting commitment. Even posting every other week was too much. It was through TwD that I "met" (that is, I became acquainted with their blogs) lots of fabulous bloggers like Rebecca. Leaving the group was tough, but I was thrilled to hear that Dorie was releasing a new cookbook and that there would be another cook-through group, French Fridays with Dorie. This time, we can cook along when we can, meaning my schedule and my waistline approve.

But wait, you say, if this new group is called French Fridays with Dorie, why are you making Vietnamese noodle soup?

Because the French colonized Vietnam for many years and one of the results is an exchange of influence in cuisine.

Dorie explains that she created a mix of phở gà and la sa gà. At first glance, the recipe looked a lot like a phở gà recipe with one extra: coconut milk. Truth be told, that didn't particularly appeal to me, so I decided to go all the way towards la sa gà, which is Vietnam's version of curry laksa and I love curry laksa. Most of the recipes have a bonne idée (good idea) sidebar with Dorie's suggestions for tweaks. Her suggestion for this recipe was to toast curry powder in hot oil before starting the soup and adding minced lemongrass.

I altered the method a little bit. First, I minced the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic in my mini-prep. Finely mincing means never having to bite into a large chunk of pungent lemongrass, ginger, or garlic in the middle of your meal. Then, I heated oil in my Dutch oven, toasted the minced aromatics, curry powder, and diced onions.

Just one thought... the recipe calls for diced onions, but I didn't care for them in my soup. Next time, I'll just cook the soup with an onion cut into halves and fish out the soggy onion before serving the soup.

After toasting the above ingredients, I added one more: a big tablespoon of shrimp paste.

Made of fermented crushed shrimp in soybean oil, it lends umami to the soup and contrasts very nicely with the coconut milk. Once the shrimp paste was added, I proceeded with the rest of the recipe. Star anise, coriander, and black peppercorns joined a bunch of cilantro stems to make a bouquet garni. I used black peppercorns instead of white, which is what I had on hand. I also substituted Chinese rock sugar for the brown sugar in the recipe.

I poached bone-in, skin-on chicken legs. The skin's fat added a touch more flavor and dark meat is much more flavorful when poached.

Once the chicken was almost fully cooked, I pulled it out, shredded it, and put it back into the soup for a few more minutes. I was using rice noodles and my mom always said to make the soup saltier when using rice noodles. The noodles absorb a lot of liquid and are rather bland, so they will make the soup blander, too. I added a tablespoon of granulated chicken bouillon a few minutes before serving. The end result was an ass-kicking bowl of curry chicken noodle soup. Garnished with sliced onion, scallions, and cilantro. Served with Thai basil, Vietnamese mint, and slices of lime.

This one's a keeper and a great start to French Fridays with Dorie!

11 bites:

Trevor Sis Boom said...

Shrimp paste!! Of course! Thanks! Great post!
Trevor Sis Boom.

Dagny said...

Love your photos! Totally agree with you that rice noodles are flavor absorbers and the shrimp paste is an excellent idea.

Anonymous said...

Good call on the chicken bouillon right before serving! Will have to try that next time. Shrimp paste could be good too....I'm getting so many ideas reading through everyone's posts today!

Tia said...

im so envious of everyone's beautiful serving square dishes!

Mary said...

Your version of the soup sounds so flavourful and delicious! Great job.

kellypea said...

Thanks for stopping by my old bloggy and taking the time to comment. Love that you've had the same experience with vacationing. Um, right on languishing away from work anywhere, right? :) I've seen Dorie's new book and can't wait to get my hands on a copy. This recipe is amazing. I continue to learn more about Asian cooking, so this is great.

scrambledhenfruit said...

Beautiful soup! I love the sound of your curry version!

Kasha said...

Wow! These colors are so tantalizing! Thanks for the inspiration!

♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

I love the historical explanation Dorie has too:-)
ANd this soup sure is delish aint it?

Oh the shrimp paste look so good!!

Mary said...

Your version of the soup sounds so flavourful and delicious! Great job.

thomkins wesley said...

What a wonderful soup! And all the other images so beautiful! Look forward to read more on the line, Fred Magento

11 bites