Isn't it fascinating how chicken, noodles, and a flavoursome broth play so well together throughout the culinary world; whether it's Jewish penicillin or a spicy pho, there's something evocative and life giving about the combination of these ingredients.
A good stock bubbled for hours is the essence of a good chicken noodle soup but the beauty of the following dish is that you can make do with one of those supermarket pouches; just make sure there's no salt added as it'll become more and more salty as the water evaporates, which you don't want.
I'm cooking a lot of Asian inspired food recently. I'm not trained in cooking Asian dishes, and I'm sure many a Thai, Vietnamese or Chinese cook would be horrified at some of my ideas. However, for me, it's not necessarily authenticity that's the key; its sensible teaming of ingredients in a meaningful and sensitive way.
Anyone interested in Asian cooking will have a sense of the key ingredients ; lemongrass, galangal, ginger, garlic, lime leaves, onion/shallots, chilli, fish sauce, soya sauce, coriander, basil, coconut milk.... Just this simple knowledge equips you with the tools to make delicious dishes without necessarily following a recipe to the letter.
Cooks can often be afraid to experiment, choosing to follow a recipe rather than trust their culinary instinct; I'm a real believer in using your instinct when you cook. After all, after a busy day at work, who has the time to shop for specific ingredients that a specific recipe requires. Use what you have, be inventive.
Tonight was one of those inventive nights. I had some chicken thighs in the fridge along with a few Asian ingredients and some chicken stock in the freezer. So, still on this tiresome diet, I decided to make a chicken noodle soup/ramen/broth/melange... I could have added some coriander if I had some, but I didn't, I could have added some spring onions, but I was all out, and I could have added coconut milk; delicious, for sure, but I'm counting the calories...
Despite these 'conscious omissions' It was still delicious! So, be creative and instinctive... Use this recipe only as a starting point and feel free to adapt to suit your fridge!
This recipe uses the infusion method that I learnt from reading David Thompson's Thai cookbooks. It's so easy and very forgiving.
- 300g skinless and boneless chicken thighs
- 1tbsp dark miso paste
- 1 tbsp dark soya sauce
- 1 litre chicken stock (you could also use pork stock - if shop bought, go for those clear pouches- no salty stock cubes here)
- 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 X 3 inch piece turmeric root, finely sliced (or half tsp ground turmeric)
- 1.5 inch piece ginger, finely sliced
- 1.5 inch piece galangal finely sliced (or just more ginger)
- 1 hot red chilli finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, bashed
- 1/2 lemon grass stalk roughly chopped
- 6 lime leaves
- 1 star anis
- A handful of cabbage and runner beans
- 1 large carrot, finely sliced
- 350g cooked noodles
- 1 tbsp Soya sauce
- 1 tbsp Fish sauce
Mix the miso paste and soya sauce together and rub it over the chicken thighs. Leave to marinate.
Heat the stock up in a large pan. Throw in the turmeric, ginger, galangal, chilli, garlic, lemongrass, star anis, onion and lime leaves and leave to bubble gently for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain (or leave for more time to infuse; it'll only get better).
Strain the liquor, pressing the liquid out of the solids. Discard the solids. Return the flavoured stock to the pan. Throw in the carrots and cook till tender. Next add the cabbage and beans and simmer for 3-4 minutes until still al dente.
Meanwhile, pour about 1 tsp of vegetable oil into a griddle pan and heat until smoking. Lay the chicken thighs flat on the pan and cook over a high heat for around 3-4 minutes until nicely caramelised. Don't move them around too much as this will prevent them from caramelising. Flip them over and cook the other side for 3 minutes or so.
Taste the broth for seasoning and add about 1 tbsp of both fish sauce and soya sauce.
Pour boiling water over your noodles to heat them up and then drain. Share the noodles between two bowls. Top with the cabbage and carrots and pour the stock over the top. Finally add the grilled chicken on the top. Serve!