Our October Daring Cooks challenge comes from Jaden of Steamy Kitchen fame whose exciting first cookbook is due to hit the shelves mid October; however the Daring Cooks get a chance to make two of her recipes which will be included in her cookbook. The first one is Vietnamese Pho, a concoction of noodles in a spirited broth with choice of meat, seafood or vegetables, then garnished with loads of fresh accompaniments, such as cilantro, red onions, lime and a hot sauce. The second challenge, a delicious and decadent chocolate wonton. While the challenge required we make the pho broth exactly as the recipe states, especially the seasoning; choosing the meat, seafood or vegetable/vegan was a personal consideration. Especially thrilling was the opportunity to be creative with the wonton fillings and shapes. However, it was imperative that the wonton remain a dessert.
From the Daring Cooks October Challenge
For my Vietnamese Shrimp Pho, I followed the directions below except when the broth was completed, I used fresh, peeled and deveined shrimp which I stir-fried first before adding to the Pho.
1. Variation; chicken, beef, pork, seafood or vegetarian/vegan.
2. There is no variation allowed with regard to seasoning. You must use the spices listed in the recipe and they must be toasted. (Only leeway here is if you cannot use the spices for health/dietary reasons.) *Note: Use same spices as listed in the chicken Pho recipe for pork, seafood and vegetarian/vegan variations. The beef variation lists it’s unique spices in the recipe.
• Frying pan
• Large stockpot
• Strainer, sieve or colander
• Bowls for serving
Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions
Servings: Makes 4 servings
For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
Brandied Fig, Chocolate and Sugared Walnut Stuffed Wontons
My dessert wontons are a brandied dried fig, grated chocolate and sugared walnut concoction.
Figs are one of my all time favorite fruits and perfect for a Fall dessert. Most often I use dried figs as they are readily available. Keeping Jaden's chocolate theme, I used Scharffenberger dark chocolate and I had on hand sugared walnuts that I had made recently.
Ingredients for the Brandied Fig, Chocolate and Sugared Walnut Wontons
Makes 12 filled wontons
- 1-5-6 oz package dried figs, chopped
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons brandy
- 1 oz grated dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup sugared walnuts or toasted walnuts, chopped
- 24 wonton wrappers
- Bowl of water
- Pastry brush
- Oil for Frying
- In a small saucepan, add water and figs. Cook over medium heat until the water evaporates, taking care not to burn the figs. Remove pan from heat, add 3 tablespoons brandy. Stand clear of pot and set the figs aflame. When the flames die down, transfer figs to a bowl. Let cool
- Add the grated chocolate and sugared or toasted walnuts. Combine well.
- On a clean, dry work surface, lay one wonton wrapper down. Place a scant tablespoon of the fig mixture in the middle of the wonton wrapper. Brush s small amount of water on the edges of the wrapper. Place a second wonton wrapper over the filling so the shape resembles a star. Place on parchment paper. Repeat process until all wonton wrappers are filled. Refrigerate covered with plastic wrap until ready to fry.
- In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2-3 inches of oil.
- Heat the oil to 350° F.
- Gently slide one or two wontons in the hot oil.
- Fry for 1 minute, then flip and fry until both sides are golden brown and crisp.