Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cooks October Challenge: Quick Chicken Pho and Chocolate Wontons

I absolutely loved this month's challenge: Pho. It's something delicious I never would have thought to make myself, but once I did, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was! I especially loved having the big assortment of toppings, allowing everyone to make their pho as wild or tame as they like.

To accompany the pho, I made a simply crunchy salad with red & green cabbage, shredded carrots, and shredded broccoli stalks, topped with toasted almonds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.

For our dessert, we were encouraged to venture outside the box and get crazy with our fillings. Jaden's original recipe calls for nuggets of chocolate. I considered filling them with chocolate that was spiced with cinnamon and chilies, but all the chocolate bars I found were too expensive to be worth it. I decided on a filling I've used many times for dessert wontons: NUTELLA! These bad boys were (of course) delicious. I probably polished off at least 5 myself and was sorely disappointed when they were finished.

Chicken Pho
From Jaden's Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
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)

As Accompaniments:
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.

Chocolate Wontons
Jaden's Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
Makes 12 wontons

1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.

On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down with a point toward you, like a diamond. Place about a teaspoon of Nutella near the top end of the wrapper. Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper. Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.

Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces. Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.

In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil. Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons. Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.


Sara said...

I can say first-hand, the pho was fresh and delicious! I had my doubts about homemade pho, but this was gooood. And my favorite chocolate wontons for dessert!!

Shandy said...

YUM! Your Pho and Wontons look delicious. I love these challenges and this is the first time I ever tried pho much less understand what goes into making it.

mub said...

I thought about doing Nutella but I didn't have any and if I bought a jar then I'd just want to sit and eat the whole thing *L* They really look great!

Dora said...

I wish every week had a pho challenge.

Nayereh said...

Look at you Ms. Fancy Pants taking over the WORLD! Akhesh!

Lauren said...

Everything looks amazing! Wonderful job - the nutella sounds divine!

Lisa said...

Your pho came out awesome, and the wontons look perfect..especially considering they're filled with the love of my life..nutella lol! Nicely done all around!

Anonymous said...

I hope you make this again!!! It looks delicious!

I like to imagine that when you come visit me in NY we'll make food together. :)

Lanny said...

being the only vietnamese posting (as well as the only one being featured on, i am the only one who can truly confirm the deliciousness of this homemade pho. be prepared to cook it for me when i come back to dc or to bring the ingredients to nyc and cook it in my apt.