Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chicken Phở (월남국수)

**edit again, 11/7: I have just typed out all instructions in Korean, too. With my mother. It was a fun-filled time, really! All the laughing with inadvertently hilarious mistakes that I made? Awesome.**

**edit: I have just typed out all the ingredients in Korean. If they're wrong, let me know so I can fix 'em. It's exhausting trying to remember the mother language, let me tell you!**

Whenever I need a break from ... well, everything, I pack up and drive 30 miles southeast to my parents' house. Yesterday night, I felt like I needed to get away from it all, so I showed up at my parents' doorstep, pineapple juice and two laptops in hand. Because I am a workaholic, even when I am taking a break.

The thoughts of the Daring Kitchen had been on my mind constantly since I first posted about it, so I told my mom last night that Saturday would be a pho-filled adventure. She and my father both love pho, while I only like it when I really want it (about once every two months).

Today, after a breakfast of nonfat plain yogurt and a small dollop of black cherry confit, we set off to the chaos that is the Chinese market. Between the crazy Chinese women, the crazy Vietnamese women, the crazy Korean women, the crazy Thai women, and their collective inability to drive, it was a white-knuckle parking lot excursion.

We got back home safely, supplies all snuggled in my car. After my mom had a sandwich from Lee's Sandwiches, of course. (The vegetarian, for the record.)

Then I set about making pho, something I was scared of, but hey! Turns out that it's easy! And I liked the process!

Chicken Phở [월남국수]
Slightly adapted from Jaden Hair's recipe

Serves 4 [4 인분]
Total preparation time: 30 minutes (if using white meat chicken), 1 hour (if using dark meat chicken) [준비 시간: 30 - 60 분]

= For the broth [육수]:
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds [2스푼 고수풀 씨]
4 whole cloves [4 정향]
2 whole star anise [2 스타 아니스]
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock [1 1/2리터 닭고기국물]
1 chicken leg and thigh [1 닭 다리, 허벅지]
1/2 onion, cut in three chunks [1/2 양파]
3-inch chunk of ginger, julienned [7.5cm 얇게 썬 생강]
6 cloves of garlic, sliced [6 얇게 썬 마늘]
1 tablespoon sugar [1스푼 설탕]
2 tablespoons fish sauce [2스푼 액젓]

= Noodles & accompaniments [국수, 양념]:

1 pound pho noodles (rice noodles) [.5 kg 월남국수, 쌀 국수]
Basil, washed [바질]
Bean sprouts, washed [숙주나물]
Lime wedges [레몬, 라임]
Chili or jalapeno, thinly sliced [얇게 썬 고추]

The coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise, measured out. The French and the foodies call this mise en place, I call this a photo op:

Toast the spices until fragrant, about 3 - 4 minutes. I believe I toasted the suckers for about 4, but they started smelling lovely a bit sooner. I shook the pan around and then cut up the onion and threw out the grocery bags. I'm all about multi-tasking.

고수풀 씨, 정향, 스타 아니스를 향이 날 때까지 3-4 분 동안 팬에 볶는다.

Half an onion, the ginger, and the chicken. The original recipe calls for a chicken breast, but my father likes dark meat, so we bought what he eats. Women serving the man of the house again, of course! We only used the larger piece of ginger, didn't use the smaller piece to the right.

Though the original recipe calls for the onion half to stay whole and asks that the ginger be sliced and then smashed with the side of the knife, I thought that the more surface area that is exposed to the broth, the better. So my mother, with her superior knife skills, julienned the ginger and sliced the garlic. The original recipe does not ask for garlic. But I'm Korean. I can't help myself.

Everything gets thrown in the pot and boiled. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer until chicken cooks (20 minutes for white meat, 40 minutes for dark meat). Being stupid, I forgot that I used dark meat chicken, which takes much longer to cook than white meat. So I simmered for 20 minutes, per the original recipe, and the chicken wasn't cooked through. Back in the chicken went, for about 20 more minutes.

육수의 재료를 모두 냄비에 넣고 끓인다 (가슴살은 20분 정도, 허벅지살은 40분 정도).

The broth after the chicken's been removed. Mmm, oil. I drained the portions of the broth that were eaten today with a coffee liner inside a sieve. The rest of the broth, I boiled a bit more and am now cooling, so the fat congeals and I can easily take it out.

고기가 완전히 익으면 고기는 건져 놓고, 육수의 양념을 체로 걸러내고, 육수 위에 있는 기름도 걸러낸다.

The accompaniments- mung bean sprouts, basil, and lime wedges. There was also Sriracha sauce for my father. He wanted Hoisin sauce, too, but I couldn't find it (my mom found it later and told me where it was for tomorrow's breakfast).

My mother's version, with bean sprouts and tons of basil and one wedge of lime. She likes the vegetables.

국수를 삶아 그릇에 담고, 육수를 붓고, 숙주나물, 바질, 라임과 멕시칸 고추를 취향에 따라 넣고, 매운 소스나 호이신 소스를 적당히 넣고 맛있게 먹는다!

My father's version, with tons of bean sprouts, not so much basil, and a liberal dousing of Sriracha sauce. He also likes thinly sliced jalapenos, but I forgot to slice some up until he was almost done eating. Oops.

Seriously, this pho was easy (less than an hour, including clean-up) and really, REALLY good. I'm not Vietnamese, obviously, so I couldn't tell you if it's authentic, but it tasted exactly like the pho we get in the several restaurants that we go to.

I don't know why it took us so long to try making pho- we probably thought it was like seollongtang (설렁탕), which is insanely annoying for the home cook to make.

Read the original recipe on the Daring Kitchen to see what else I changed, because I'm lazy and forgot what else I disobeyed, but I tried not to veer too far away. I'm very good at following instructions for baking- really, I am. But I am terrible at following a recipe for a savory dish. Korean cooking is all about touch, feel, taste, smell, and appearance, not about measurements, so I'm used to that method. I can't break the habit!

I was told that pho is usually a breakfast dish in Vietnam, so my parents are having the rest of this batch for breakfast tomorrow. With Hoisin sauce and sliced jalapeno, of course. Oh, I also undercooked the noodles. I like all my pastas very, very al dente, and my parents like their pastas cooked until dead, beyond al dente. Oops!

I didn't eat any- no complex foods for me still: yogurt, cherry confit, pineapple juice, and tofu is as far as I'm going today.

I'm so excited that this worked! I'm going to try cooking and baking all kinds of recipes now- hopefully they're all as successful as this one was.

(And no, I was not tempted to eat while cooking. First of all, that raw chicken totally skeeved me out. I am not a huge fan of chicken, and raw chicken makes me a little nauseous. Second of all, I felt full just off the smells from the toasting spices, the broth, and the basil.)

Hooray cooking! And baking!