Our cookbook of the week is Vietnamese Food Any Day by Andrea Nguyen, James Beard Award-winning food writer and cooking teacher. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with its author.
Andrea Nguyen modelled this recipe, which uses leftover roast or rotisserie chicken, after a beloved but “very labour-intensive” roast duck noodle soup.
“I tinkered with it and thought, ‘Why not use roast chicken?’ Especially a rotisserie chicken or there’s a (honey-hoisin) roast chicken recipe in the book, and it’s just super simple and cosy,” says Nguyen. “You can use leftovers and doctor up canned broth if you want to with seasonings like five-spice powder, soy sauce and mushrooms. It’s just a super, super recipe.”
If you’re light on chicken, she suggests adding halved boiled eggs to the individual soup bowls. And while Chinese wheat noodles would be the classic choice, it’s just as satisfying with ramen or soba noodles.
ROAST CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
Takes: About 1 hour
4 large or 6 small dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups (500 mL) hot water
2 medium-large green onions
1 tbsp (15 mL) toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
Chubby 1-inch (2.5-cm) section ginger, peeled, cut into 4 or 5 coins, and bruised
6 cups (1.5 L) chicken stock (recipe follows) or store-bought chicken broth
10 oz (285 g) deboned rotisserie chicken or roast chicken, cut into bite-size pieces, plus the leftover chicken carcass, bones, unwanted parts, pan juices and skin
1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp (2.5 mL) Chinese five-spice powder
Fine sea salt
2 tsp (10 mL) maple syrup, or 1 tsp (5 mL) sugar
1 1/2 tbsp (22 mL) soy sauce
8 oz (225 g) dried Chinese wheat noodles, ramen or soba, boiled according to the package directions and drained
1/4 cup (50 mL) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
10 oz (285 g) baby bok choy, halved lengthwise and cut diagonally into pieces about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide and 2 inches (5 cm) long
Recently ground black or white pepper, or Japanese togarashi
1/2 cup (125 mL) Any Day Viet Pickle (recipe follows; optional)
Place the mushrooms in a medium bowl, add 1 cup (250 mL) of the hot water and let soak for 15 minutes. Strain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid and set aside.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the green parts of the green onions to get 3 tablespoons and set aside for garnish. Cut the remainder into pinkie-finger lengths and bruise them.
In a 4-quart (4-L) saucepan over medium heat, warm the sesame oil. Add the bruised green onion and ginger and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, chicken bits, mushroom soaking liquid and remaining 1 cup (250 mL) water. Partially cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then adjust the heat to a simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface and add the five-spice powder, 1 teaspoon salt, maple syrup and soy sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. If needed, skim off any fat.
Pour the broth through a mesh strainer into a clean pot. (Line the strainer with muslin for super-clear broth.) You should have 7 cups (1.75 L); if needed, return to the stove top and boil down to concentrate flavours or add water to dilute.
Stem and quarter the shiitake mushrooms, then add to the broth. (At this point, you can transfer the mushrooms and broth to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.) Return the broth to a simmer over high heat, adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer.
Meanwhile, divide the noodles among four noodle-soup bowls. Arrange the chicken on top in one layer. If the noodles and chicken are cold, warm them in the microwave with 20-second blasts. Top with the sliced green onion and cilantro.
Add the bok choy to the simmering broth and cook for about 1 minute, until bright green and slightly soft. Taste and, if needed, season the broth with more salt, 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, then divide the broth and vegetables among the bowls. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with pepper. Serve, and have diners add the pickle to their bowls for bright flavour and crunch.
Notes: If dried shiitake mushrooms are unavailable, use 6 medium fresh shiitake, white button, or cremini mushrooms. There won’t be any soaking liquid, so add an additional 1 cup (250 mL) water to the broth.
Leave the chicken skin on for authenticity, or toss it into the brewing broth.
PRESSURE-COOKER CHICKEN STOCK
Takes: About 1 1/2 hours
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lb (680 to 795 g) chicken backs
1 lb (455 g) meaty chicken parts, such as drumsticks, thighs or breast
Chubby 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) section ginger, unpeeled, cut into 3 pieces and bruised
1/2 small Fuji apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thickly sliced
1 1/4 tsp (6 mL) fine sea salt
Put the chicken backs and parts in a 6-quart (6-L) pressure cooker with enough water to just cover. Partially cover the pot with the lid (there’s no need to lock it in place) and bring to a vigorous simmer over high heat. (If using a multicooker, use a high heat setting, such as Brown on the Fagor Lux, or adjust the Sauté function on the Instant Pot.) Uncover and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Set a colander in the sink, dump in the chicken and all the liquid, and quickly rinse and spray off the impurities. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside. Give the pressure cooker a scrubbing and then return the chicken to it. Add 6 1/3 cups (1.575 L) water to the cooker. (If using a multicooker, add 6 cups/1.5 L water.) Drop in the ginger, apple, onion and salt.
Lock the lid in place. Bring to high pressure, adjust the heat to maintain pressure and cook for 45 minutes. Then, remove from the heat, depressurize naturally for 20 minutes and release the residual pressure. (If using a multicooker, program it to cook at high pressure for 45 minutes, turn it off or unplug it and depressurize for 25 minutes before releasing residual pressure.)
Unlock the cooker and wait for any bubbling to subside, about 5 minutes. Using a metal ladle, remove most of the fat on top, leaving some for flavour. (Or, remove the fat after straining and chilling the stock, when it’s easier.) Using a slotted spoon, remove the large solids.
Position a strainer over a medium or large saucepan (line the strainer with muslin for super-clear stock and easy straining) and ladle or pour the stock through.
Use the stock immediately, or transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Makes: About 6 cups (1.5 L)
Notes: When whole chickens are on sale, buy a couple, cut them up (or ask a butcher to do the deed) and use the backs and some of the meaty parts for stock. Add 3 or 4 chicken feet for extra-gelatinous stock.
To make the stock in a 6-quart (6-L) stockpot, parboil the chicken as directed. Return the chicken to the cleaned pot and add 8 cups (2 L) water with the onion, ginger and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue simmering, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove from the heat and let cool and rest for 15 minutes before straining. If needed, boil to reduce to about 6 cups, or add water if the stock is too strong.
ANY DAY VIET PICKLE
Takes: 10 to 30 minutes, plus 1 hour to mature
One 1-lb (455-g) daikon, or two 8-oz (225-g) purple-top turnips or watermelon radishes
One 6-oz (170-g) carrot
1 tsp (5 mL) fine sea salt
2 tsp (10 mL) sugar, plus 1/2 cup (125 mL)
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) distilled white vinegar (preferably Heinz)
1 cup (250 mL) lukewarm water
Peel and cut the daikon into sticks about 3 inches (8 cm) long and 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick (the width of an average chopstick). Peel and cut the carrot into sticks a little skinnier than the daikon.
Put both vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt and 2 teaspoons sugar. Massage and knead for 3 minutes, or set aside for 20 minutes, until you can bend a piece of daikon so the tips touch without breaking. They will have lost about a quarter of their original volume.
Rinse the vegetables with water, drain in a mesh strainer or colander, and press or shake to expel excess water. Transfer to a 4-cup (1-L) jar.
In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar with the vinegar and 1 cup (250 mL) water until dissolved. Pour enough of the liquid into the jar to cover the vegetables, discard any excess and let sit for 1 hour. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Makes: About 3 cups (750 mL)
Notes: Instead of daikon, use 12 ounces (340 g) of red radishes. Cut them, unpeeled, into 1/8-inch (3-mm) -thick rounds. Halve the carrot lengthwise and thinly slice on the diagonal to coax faster pickling. Toss the vegetables in the salt and sugar, let sit for 10 minutes to soften, then rinse and brine as directed.
Don’t like daikon funk? Pickle a 10-ounce (280-g) package of shredded carrot. Enjoy as is, or mix with sliced green cabbage in a 1:2 ratio of carrot to cabbage, add some of the brine and season with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes to slightly wilt the cabbage and yield a slaw-like mixture to pair with Viet foods.
Reprinted with permission from Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2019. Photography by Aubrie Pick. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.