To set the tone for this brand new, third season of Pan Asian, I wanted to return to the essence of what the show is all about, which is to present a simple, quick, delicious, and healthy Asian meal in under 15 minutes that you can make in your own kitchen. As always, the food is the star, not me, and I would hope that my simple instructions will encourage you to bring your I-pad into the kitchen and make this dish along with me.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to never be intimidated by new ingredients or techniques. Once you gain familiarity with them, you will continue to use them. I have incorporated such ingredients as rice wine and fish sauce into my regular cooking, and always look forward to the opportunity to try something different that I have not used before. In the case of this particular recipe, however, I had everything on hand already.
I have long enjoyed these simple Asian soups–usually on the street in Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam–but to make them home is a thrill because it takes you back to those places and unlocks a treasure trove of memories. This last point also underscores the fact that this dish qualifies as Asian fast food–unlike any fast food we are accustomed to in the West. For this is good food fast, even contributing to better health, unlike your greasy burger.
So while those New Years’ resolutions are still fresh, take a step towards a healthy lifestyle with this amazing soup!
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, diced
1 lb. baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
1 lb. dried egg noodles
6 cups chicken stock or 2-3 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 6 cups of water
3 tablespoons crushed coriander roots and stems
4 stalks Chinese celery, chopped to yield 1 cup
1 small red onion, diced
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
3 tablespoons mirin, rice wine or sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
crispy fried shallots*
2 spring onions, sliced
bunch of coriander leaves
2 green chilies, chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
- To make the broth, bring chicken stock to a boil in a stockpot over high heat. Add coriander roots and stems, celery and onion, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out solids. Discard solids and return broth to stove to simmer over very low heat. Add other broth ingredients and stir occasionally.
- In a saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water and salt to a boil, and poach the chicken over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until cooked. Remove from heat, drain chicken, and set aside to cool.
- Bring another pot of water to boil over high heat. Blanch baby bok choy for about 2 minutes. Remove, drain, and set aside, but reserve water.
- In the same pot of water, blanch the egg noodles until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
- To serve, place egg noodles in bowl topped by bok choy and chicken cubes. Pour over broth and top with crispy fried shallots, spring onion, and cilantro leaves.
* Note: crispy fried shallots are available in packets or jars in most Asian food stores