Tuesday, October 12, 2010

French Friday with Dorie; Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup


This Friday's assigned cooking experience with Dorie is Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. Beckbug and I went on a hunt to find a long list of unusual ingredients to make our soups...we will both cook tomorrow (Wednesday) and it will be fun to taste each creation (hers will be vegetarian, kinda., with chicken broth, but no chicken, and more veges). We found all the ingredients at Lee Lee Oriental Market in Chandler, AZ, except we decided to visit Whole Foods for organic, natural chicken broth and also to hunt for some good baking chocolate. We were disappointed with the chocolate selection, but all the other ingredients were found and some of them look.....well, kinda interesting for the most part.

FRESH GINGER, DRIED CHILIS, & CILANTRO are as well as other interesting veges and flavorings for this soup

HERE IS THAT STINKY FISH SAUCE among other interesting ingredients

This soup will taste like licorice: star anise, coconut, ginger, fish from the fish sauce (an Asian man shopping in the same aisle as us asked if we like fish sauce...we answered that we don't know, we have not tried it..he laughed and said it is stinky sauce, but that we had chosen one with less stink...so we asked him which one would be better, and he answered that the ones that stink the most are the best. ..we told him we wanted the safest one...he just laughed at us!), cilantro, lime, chicken, hot sauce and hot peppers, mint leaves (I have them in my garden), chili oil, etc...oh my, such a variety of spices that I never use in Chicken Noodle Soup, and some ingredients that I have never used...that fish sauce!

For sure this soup will not be boring, and it just might be gross! Who dreams up putting all these powerful flavors together? It must have been an accident. But we will be brave. The reason we wanted to be a part of this group is to expand our cooking and eating horizons and also our culinary knowledge, and to get some new, fresh ideas...well, we are getting it! We will just have to trust Dorie on this one. Didn't the French occupy much of Viet Nam at one point...with large plantations and they controlled most of the wealth? So, Vietnamese foods would be common for many of the French.

THIS SOUP WITH THE CHEESECLOTH BUNDLE (bottom left) OF FLAVORINGS AND THE CHILIS is not too pretty, but it will get better

Actually, one of my daughters married a wonderful young man whose family is from Laos and Thailand, very close neighbors to Viet Nam. When Viet Nam fell in about 1975, his father who had been helping the American side, escaped Viet Nam by swimming the Mekong River, where he found refuge in Thailand. Along with his wife and infant son, he was transplanted in America where the family grew to have 3 sons...the youngest is my son-in-law. For their wedding reception, my daughter's mother-in-law and her friend cooked some very wonderful Thai food. This soup assignment reminds me of them and their delicious additions to our wedding feasts. I plan to email her letting her know we have cooked a food that she would enjoy. Her friend actually has a Thai restaurant in the Seattle area, so I will tell her what ingredients we are using and maybe she will give me some tips for future use.


OK...it is the next day, Wednesday, and the soup is finished and was eaten for dinner. While cooking, I decided to add extra broth, using the entire container...and the broth, Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, was wonderful. It was not that clear, not-enough-flavor stuff I usually bring home, but it was like I had simmered a whole chicken for hours; with lots of wonderful flavor and aroma, it brought some depth to my soup. I used skinless, boneless chicken breast without losing any flavor from not simmering the skin and bones.

Being Arizonans and loving lots of cilantro in our Mexican foods, I doubled the amount of cilantro and used a good sized onion. I used four times the noodles (found some that had been freshly made at the Asian food market--they only take 10 seconds of boiling for the cooking time), and I added a couple of large handfulls of bean sprouts to my pot. (We are not brothy soup lovers...we like lots of substance in our bowl...we all go for more noodles.) I also added more fish sauce and a little extra lime juice. The soup needed more flavor (which might have been added with all the suggested optional garnishes), so I tried more fish sauce instead of salt. I tasted the fish sauce and it reminds me a little of salty soy sauce. (I'm sure the addition many more noodles created a need for more flavorings.) I thought it turned out to be quite tasty...yes, even with fish sauce, and hubby said, "I'm sure the Asian people would really love this!" He would know, he lived in Singapore for 2 years.

I phoned Beckbug to see if she had also finished her soup. Her family was eating the soup for their dinner. She commented that she wished she had added more veges, like carrots and celery, but that they were enjoying the recipe.

I am sure I would have never made this soup except for the assignment. The unusual ingredients would have thrown me off. So, I must admit that I am happy I participated and that I have a new soup recipe and new flavors to enjoy. In our family, we do love many Asian foods, and this soup will be added to our cooking repitoure. (And with the cilantro, onion, chicken, dried chilis, and lime, this could be a cousin to our much loved Mexican cuisine.) Thanks, Dorie, for this assignment. I enjoyed making and eating this soup. I look forward to boiling some beef for our next assignment?!?!?


  1. I was worried about the fish sauce and when I smelled it after opening I was REALLY worried. Turned out I thought it was the best seasoning in the soup and added more during 'adjustment'. It really works with all the other flavorings. GREAT POST!
    Trevor Sis Boom.

  2. I love that your fish sauce says "Squid" right on the front...so funny. Great post.

  3. Yea the word that comes to mind when I think of fish sauce is rank. Did you see the fish sauce that has actual tiny fish in the bottle? Now that's the potent stuff!
    Let me know if you find a good substitute for boiling that beef for next week's recipe!

  4. wow, all those foreign ingredients gathered together for a yummy soup :)


  5. I love all those pics, i think the same i not for the group we wont find ourselves making the soup or all the other delicious recipes!!