Saturday, 3 September 2011

Oriental chicken meatball soup with noodles

Restorative and healthy food of the highest order. When feeling a little run down (or in my case, like you've been overdoing things), chicken noodle soup really does hit the spot. But yeah, you might have guessed, in my world it's got to be oriental.

I got the idea for this dish from a lovely blog called Tes at Home which I found through Tastespotting. The image alone whet my appetite and I knew instantly when looking at it that I needed to cook it as soon as possible. So post Friday night fun, today became that day.

The dish takes a little while to cook if you haven't got any homemade chicken stock hanging around, but it's relatively easy and mainly involves putting the pot on the hob and leaving it be - so low involvement even though it takes a while.

Making it will reward you with deliciously clean and aromatic oriental flavours and the lightest, fluffiest little chicken dumplings. As you might imagine, the dish would benefit from some red chilli so if you're into the hot stuff add a little to the meatball mixture, and on serving, be prepared to not want to share it with anyone else.  

For two:
1 whole chicken
2 large knobs of ginger, sliced length ways
6 spring onions, 4 top and tailed and 2 top and tailed and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic
A handful of fresh mint
A shot of light soy sauce
10 star anise
A tablespoon of black peppercorns
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 egg whites and 50mls water together in a bowl with a little salt
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
A couple of drizzles of toasted sesame oil
Skinny rice noodles, made up as per the pack instructions and cooled ready for use
Sea salt flakes
A clean tea towel

- Start by removing the breasts of the chicken from the carcass - you do this by slicing down the top bone either side and cutting the breasts away. Discard the skin and set the breasts aside
- Now remove the chicken legs and place the carcass and legs into a deep saucepan with the celery, onion, carrot, half the ginger, star anise and black peppercorns
- Cover with enough cold water to cover the lot and put it on the hob on a medium heat. Simmer uncovered for 3 hours then turn the heat off and leave it to cool a little
- Whilst its simmering you can make the meatballs (I made 20 smallish balls from the mixture). Into a food processor combine the other half of the ginger, garlic, 4 whole spring onions, sesame oil and a scrunch of salt and blitz until they form a paste, add the chicken breasts and blitz again until its all finely minced and the ingredients are all combined. Then using your hands simply make up the small meatballs and then place on a plate into the fridge to firm up
- Remove the chicken legs and pick off any meat from the carcass and set them aside - you don't need this chicken meat for the recipe but it tastes delicious and you can use it in something else another day
- Strain the liquor through a fine mesh sieve and discard all the vegetables and bits
- Add the soy sauce to the pot and b ring the strained liquor to the boil, once boiling take it off the heat and stir in the egg whites, stir through and leave for a minute, then strain again through a fine mesh sieve - the egg helps collect loads of the impurities
- To make the liquor super clear and clarified, you can now either use a special muslin sieve, or you can fashion one out of a clean tea towel and an extra pair of hands. Take a clean saucepan and hold the tea towel to the top of it, forming a well in which to pour the liquid into, then do this gradually, whilst holding onto the tea towel to keep it suspended. Pour all the liquid through it and the towel will catch all the nasties and leave you with a saucepan of clear and clarified stock
- Pop the liquid onto simmer gently and add enough cold water to the pot to give you enough liquor for two of you to eat (depends on how much it reduced before really so this isnt exact)
- Now whilst the pan is on a medium heat, pop your chicken meatballs into the pan. Once they're done you'll find they float to the top - this takes around 6-7 minutes. As the meatballs start to float more impurities will come to the surface - you simply need to skim these off with a ladle
- Place the rice noodles into the pan to heat through along with the spring onion and shredded meat
- Ladle into bowls, eat, and feel good