Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 2009 Daring Cooks' Challenge: Pho with Jaden of Steamy Kitchen!!!

It's that exciting time of the month again, when Daring Cooks from all parts of the world join together and post their own versions of the DC challenge of the month. To be honest, I almost didn't make it. September was very challenging for me, because last September 26, a super typhoon hit my country and devastated most of the capital. This was especially hard because the community we lived in was completely submerged in water, we lost our pets, our cars and our home in the span of 6 short hours. I was not home when it happened, I was safe at work but my mom and brother and sisters spent almost 24 hours on the 3rd floor attic of our kind neighbors. When you lose everything (material), you suddenly realize the most important things are not material things. I cried and thanked God when I finally saw my family the next day. Sadly we were not able to get much of what was left in the house because when the water went down, mud coated everything. But, we are in a better place now and moving to another place, starting anew is very exciting and challenging.
I am glad I did this challenge, Vietnamese food is a favorite in my family and it was very rewarding to make it on my own.
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.
• Frying pan• Large stockpot• Tongs• Strainer, sieve or colander• Bowls for serving
Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions
Servings: Makes 4 servings
For the 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)
½ onion
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
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
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.
In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

For the wonton dessert, I made mine into a sweet potato tower. I fried the wonton wrappers and stacked them in between sweet potatoes cooked in caramelized sugar and drizzled them with chocolate ganache.


Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

So sorry to hear that you were impacted by the flooding. I am awestruck by your resilience and ability to pick up and then make pho.

I love your dessert wontons - they sound so delicious and look gorgeous!

Frenchie said...

I am so impressed that you did this challenge despite the obstacles that you faced. You did a really great job. I hope things are falling back into place for you now. All the best.

Lauren said...

Wonderful job! The pho looks amazing, and the wontons - Yum!

TaGa_Luto said...

Hi, Chef. Where are you from if you don't mined me asking. My brother is from Marikina and they too experienced the devastation. They sent us pics of how their subd. looked like and their house. They were able to bring majority of their stuff up to the 3rd floor but wasn't able to save one of their cars. Thank God you guys are doing okay now.
Now on a lighter note, my hats off to you for making a great pho inspite of all the adversities. Mabuhay!

Chef Cathy Shambley said...

Your story AND your Pho is inspiring.

Olive said...

Hi Chef_d! :)

I'm glad you're okay and I hope something like that won't happen again ever to anyone.

BTW, our pho look similar save for the lemon and chilli :)

Love you wontons too!

Anonymous said...

Hello!I'm Cahide.From Turkey...

nikki said...

I'm sorry to hear the news of the hurricane's devastation. It's good to know that you and your family are safe. Even in disaster you manage to cook a pot of pho and some chocolate napoleons, truly amazing and inspiring! My best to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Your story is amazing...and here I was feeling good about pulling this off with a super-duper fussy 11-week old and a 3-year-old underfoot! Nothing compared to what you've been through. And the food looks delish. Impressive!

Rose said...

Wow. I am so sorry to hear about your loss, but I am relieved that you have your family and your health! I am moved by your strength and your clarity of what is most important in life. I hope things continue to get better for you!

Barbara Bakes said...

I was sorry to read about last year's disaster. I'm glad your family was safe!

Your soup looks great, but your wonton desert looks fabulous!

Cheri said...

Wow. What a crazy experience. I am glad that all of your family was ok. Your pho looks perfect and your wontons sound wonderful!

Olga said...

I'd love one of those wontons right now ;)

Lori said...

Wow despite all that hardship, you still made Daring Cooks challenge. Good for you to have such a positive outlook. I wish you the best of luck in your new home. Safety, love and warmth.

Miriam said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, this was an exciting challenge, wasn't it? :-) I'm glad you're allright.

Lynnylu said...

Making and enjoying your lovely pho must have sustained you through your struggle to attain some normalcy in your life.

Ravenous Couple said...

nice job on pho ga! The flood is terrible..Glad you everyone is ok.

Kitchen Bliss! said...

Understandable that September is a hard month to endure! That is a truly amazing and scary story but I am so happy you have made the best of it and are enjoying some time in the kitchen. Wonderful job on the pho and wontons, that is a really creative idea!

Lisa Michelle said...

Your Pho looks PHOnomenal (I'm still playing on 'fuh' lol) but that stacked wonton of chocolate, sweet potato, caramel heaven has me salivating like crazy! I better go before my butt expands just from looking at it LOL Niiiiiicely done all around!