Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Daring Cooks -Vietnamese Shrimp Pho, Plus Brandied Fig, Chocolate and Sugared Walnut Stuffed Wontons

Print Friendly and PDF Photobucket
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

Vietnamese Pho
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
• Tongs
• 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)
½ onion
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
Hoisin 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
How to Make the Stuffed Wontons
  1. 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
  2. Add the grated chocolate and sugared or toasted walnuts. Combine well.
  3. 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.
  4. In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2-3 inches of oil.
  5. Heat the oil to 350° F.
  6. Gently slide one or two wontons in the hot oil.
  7. Fry for 1 minute, then flip and fry until both sides are golden brown and crisp.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sugared walnut.


Kitchen Bliss! said...

Wow, beautiful photos and your wonton filling sounds delicious! Wonderful job!!

Minh said...

Lovely photos, I adore the plating of the pho bowls!

chef_d said...

I love your photos, they look so beautiful! And your brandied fig stuffed wontons sound so yummy!

Olive said...

you did a great job, your pho looks fantastic, great pho-tos ;) ditto with the wontons

bake in paris said...

Love love the Pho! The pictures are stunning!


Cahide said...

Hello! I'M Cahide...

Kayte said...

All of this looks fantastic and I would love to eat this right now...even for breakfast! I am going to give this one a try, even the wontons! Thanks...lovely photos.

The Bella Girls said...

I love the idea of Fig, Chocolate and Sugared Walnut Stuffed Wontons. What a fun spin on dessert!


Tammy said...

My, oh my. Your wontons look delicious. The soup, too, but I'm stuck on those wontons. I've been browsing all your photographs, and they are mesmerizing.

Margie said...

Your shrimp pho looks so good, makes me crave a bowl right now. The wontons.... you had me at brandied fig. YUM!

Rose said...

Beautiful job! WOW! Brandied Fig?! Sounds amazing!

doggybloggy said...

where have you been all my life? Wow everything looks so delectable!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn. I came over from DPS. Great food photos. I like to photograph food too.

Lauren said...

Oh my goodness! Your photos are breathtaking =D. The pho and wontons look delicious!

lululu said...

beautiful pictures!
lovely recipes too!
i can never resist a bowl of delicious and hearty pho!

Lisa Michelle said...

WOW..I am totally blown away by your pho photos/presentation and that figgy filling for your beautiful wontons. Amazing job on the challenge!! My mouth is watering!

nathalie in avignon said...

Just discovered your blog thanks to the gorgeous photo posted on Digital photography school today. So glad I found you, your blog is an invitation to the divine! I'll have to come back and browse some more through your recipes!

Cheers from France,

vibi said...

What an amazing menu...

Sometimes I wish I was also part of the Daring Cooks, but saddly I realize I'd have to skip everytime they're would be sea prodcuts on the list. Hummm... can't have it, but have to admit I find it real pretty here...

Lynnylu said...

Thanks everyone for all the wonderful comments you made. I will be visiting your blogs soon.

TeaLady said...

Your pho looks wonderful and very delicious. And with shrimp. Perfect.

Love the wontons. I didn't quite make it to those after I made the pho. Fun tho.

Lauryn said...

WOW!!! I epecially love those chocolate fig wontons!!!!! They look amazing!!! Love your photos!!!

Jaime said...

wow great job! I am Vietnamese but had never "dared" to try to make this soup myself... my mom makes the best pho though :)

snickers wontons are my favorite, but your brandied fig and chocolate wontons look amazing!

Melissa said...

Oh wow, great job! Both dishes look delicious. Your wontons look professional!

Amelia PS said...

stunning menu

Gadget by The Blog Doctor.