Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pseudo-Cantonese spicy chicken soup

So even though this is a recipe that I invented by throwing things together, and indeed, change the ingredients of every time, I did the unthinkable: I measured (almost) everything. Just for you.

Almost a decade ago, now, I spent some time in China, mostly in Hong Kong. It is a beautiful city, and I enjoyed my time there. Unfortunately, due to circumstances that would take a lot of time to explain, the team I went with ate local cuisine (that is, not McDonalds or bread and fruit bought at a grocery store) maybe once or twice in almost a month. I consider this a great tragedy, as Cantonese food is delicious.

The one time I distinctly remember eating out was a little hole-in-the-wall eatery in one of the many malls. Because the menus were written in Chinese, I just ordered the first thing that didn't sound too spicy or too strange for my 12-year-old palate (pig intestines was one of the options I remember).

I ended up ordering a giant delicious bowl of soup with some kind of sausage, vegetables, and tons of thin noodles that were either mung bean threads or rice noodles. It was also way spicier then anything I eat in America (I am a total hot sauce wimp) but it was so delicious I didn't care.

This recipe was evolved out of multiple attempts to try and recreate the tasty spicy soup with noodles.

Please note that I say "pseudo-Cantonese" because lets face it, I don't know much about Chinese cuisine except that it is delicious.

Here is everything you will need. (The coffee is not a part of this cast of characters. i just have a tiny kitchen is all)

1 Qt chicken broth
1 chicken breast
1/3 package of bean threads or rice noodles (this is the one thing I did not measure. Sorry)
1/2 red bell pepper
1 carrot
3-4 mushrooms
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1-2 tsp sirracha or other hot chili sauce (be careful, this stuff burns!)
1 tsp soy sauce

Begin by soaking the bean threads or rice noodles in a bowl of cold water. Set aside.

Heat a quart of chicken (or whatever-flavored) broth in a saucepan over high. In the mean time, cut all the veggies into strips like these:

Normally I use about a quarter of a cabbage instead of the 1/2 bell pepper, but I didn't want to make another grocery trip. Celery is also good.

Put the veggies into the boiling broth, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the sweet chili sauce, sirracha, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.

Meanwhile, slice the chicken into thin strips like this. Beef is also good, and I bet tofu would be too.
Put the meat into the pot and stir. The liquid should be hot enough that the chicken will be cooked in a minute or two.

The purpose of cutting the meat and the veggies so thin is twofold: they will cok very quickly, and it's easier to eat with chopsticks this way.

When the vegetables are soft and the meat is cooked (6-8 minutes of total cooking time if you are more coordinated then me) add the drained noodles, and allow to heat for 1-2 minutes.

Then serve and eat with chopsticks, it somehow tastes better that way!

Serves three.

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