Friday, March 14, 2014

Not Your Momma's Phở Gà

Phở Gà is a Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, but last night I played around with the concept of a fusion bowl with Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese flavors. I was inspired by a recent visit to Alésia Restaurant in St. Petersburg, "...[f]ounded by three partners with French, Vietnamese, and Chinese upbringings..."

What I wound up with was a rich, flavorful faux phở (say that real fast several times) that provided us with a very filling and warming soup that banished the Florida March chill that we aren't enjoying. I have entertained thoughts of figuratively bitch slapping the next TV weather person who gushes over this marvelous cool weather. But, I digress.

I took more than a few liberties with my phở gà. For one thing, I have neither the time or patience to cook the traditional rich broth for 24 hours or more. My local Publix, where shopping is an adventure, has some very flavorful prepared stocks, so last night I just poured a Swanson chicken cooking stock directly from the carton.

If time and desire exist, you can enhance the richness of the prepared stock by boiling it down by maybe a quarter. The spirit didn't move me in that direction this time, but whether you pour from the container or perform a stock reduction, do use stock, not broth.

For heat and flavor I use a Vietnamese chili garlic sauce. If you absolutely have to, I suppose you could substitute the ubiquitous sriracha. They are both available from the same company, but sriracha is for pussies.

Not Your Momma's Phở Gà

  4         each  chicken thighs -- skinned and boned
  1         tablespoon sea salt
  2         tablespoons five-spice powder
  2         tablespoons peanut oil
  2         cloves  garlic -- thinly sliced
  1         tablespoon  ginger root -- peeled and thinly sliced
  1         cup carrot -- peeled and shredded
  1/4      cup mirin
  1         tablespoon Vietnamese garlic chili sauce -- or to taste
  4         ounces rice noodles
  1         head  bok choy -- cut into 1-inch pieces, separate leaves from stalks
  1/4      cup soy sauce
  32       ounces chicken stock
  1/2      cup  cilantro -- chopped

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and season all over with salt, to taste, and the five-spice powder.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the peanut oil.

When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger, and saute until they become fragrant with a slight dark char.

Add the chicken to the pot and saute until golden but not cooked through.

Stir in the bok choy stalks and carrots and saute for 1 minute.

Stir in the mirin and chili sauce, and cook for 30 seconds, then add the rice noodles, bok choy leaves, soy sauce and chicken stock and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the noodles are al dente.

Ladle the soup into large, wide bowls and garnish with the chopped cilantro.

Start to Finish Time:  45 minutes
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In the interest of total honesty, I didn't have any rice noodles last night, so I substituted angel hair pasta. Whatever works!

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 437 Calories; 22g Fat (47.6% calories from fat); 20g Protein; 34g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 79mg Cholesterol; 4540mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 3 Fat.

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