This simple Filipino chicken-noodle soup stands or falls on the quality of the stock; by cooking the chook in chicken stock (home made, please!), you get a doubly-rich liquid with lots of flavour and body.
- 1 x 1.2 kg whole chicken
- 2 litres (8 cups) chicken stock
- 150 g bean thread vermicelli
- 2 ½ tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
- 1 bunch of wombok (Chinese celery), trimmed and cut into 2 cm pieces
- 1 tsp annatto powder (see Note)
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) fish sauce
- 500 g wombok (Chinese cabbage - about a ⅓ of a cabbage), thinly sliced
- 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
- fried garlic, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place the chicken in a large saucepan then add the stock and enough water to cover the chicken, if necessary. Bring to a simmer over medium-high then reduce heat to low and cover the pan. Cook the chicken for 50 minutes or until cooked through. Drain the chicken, reserving the liquid. Cool the chicken slightly then, when cool enough to handle, remove the meat, discarding the skin and bones. Using your fingers, shred the meat coarsely and set aside. Place the noodles in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 15 minutes or until softened. Drain well and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over medium-low, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the carrot and Chinese celery and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the annatto powder and Chinese cabbage and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until cabbage has wilted.
Meanwhile, skim any fat from the reserved chicken cooking liquid. Add the chicken cooking liquid to the saucepan with the fish sauce then bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the noodles and cook for 6-7 minutes or until the noodles are transparent then add the chicken. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the chicken is heated through.
Divide among bowls, top each with 2 eggs halves, sprinkle with fried garlic to taste, then serve.
• Annatto powder is derived from the seeds of the achiote tree and is much used in Filipino and Vietnamese cooking for the reddish colour and subtle flavour it imparts. If you can’t find it, you could substitute a half teaspoon each of sweet paprika and ground turmeric.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page.