Sunday, October 18, 2009

Daring Cooks October Challenge: Pho

October's Daring Cooks challenge just happened to be one of my favorite foods, hosted by one of my favorite food bloggers. Chicken Pho was on the menu courtesy of Jaden from Steamy Kitchen. Jaden's new cookbook came out this month and it is stunning. Last year I was one of the recipe testers for her book and every single recipe I tried was delicious. This Pho is no exception. Pho, which is pronounced "fuh" is a Vietnamese soup that can be made with chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu. It's really the broth and the accompaniments that are the stars of this dish, they are the definition of flavor explosion. If you're feeling under the weather, Pho will surely bring you out of your funk. It is so warm and comforting. You'll notice the complexity of the dish when you read the broth ingredients below. I wasn't kidding about the abundance of flavor.

This month there was a second optional challenge which was chocolate wontons. But in an attempt to hold on to Thanksgiving glory just a little longer, I decided to try a pumpkin pie filling. The wontons were fantastic and I may just substitute them next time for the usual pumpkin pie. Okay, maybe not but I will be making them again very, very soon.

Check Jaden's original recipe here.

Here's my recipe for Shrimp Pho with the pumpkin wonton recipe to follow:
2 quarts shellfish stock, see recipe below
1 lb dried rice noodles (about 1/4″ wide)
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1. Cook the noodles according to package directions.
2. bring the stock to a boil.
3. Add the shrimp to boiling stock and cook for 2-3 minutes, or just until the shrimp have turned pink.
4. Ladle the stock into bowls, add the cooked noodles and shrimp and serve with the accompaniments below.

2 cups bean sprouts, washed & tails pinched off
cilantro leaves
1/2 cup shaved red onions
lime wedges
Sriracha hot sauce
Hoisin sauce
sliced chili

Garnish the soup to your taste with all of the above ingredients.

Shellfish Stock:
3 lbs seafood shells, such as shrimp, crab and/or lobster
3 quarts cold water
1 lemon, halved
handful of fresh parsley
a couple of sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
10-15 black peppercorns
1 large onion, unpeeled and cut in half
3" chunk of ginger, unpeeled
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
small bunch of cilantro stems only, tied in bunch with twine

1. Place ginger and onion on a small baking sheet. The top of the onion should be about 4″ from the oven’s heating element. Set to broil on high for 15 minutes. Turn the onion and ginger occasionally, to get an even char. The skin should get dark and the onion/ginger should get soft. After cooling, rub to get the charred skin off the onion and use a butter knife to scrape the skin off the ginger. Slice ginger into thick slices.
2. Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the shells. Bring to a boil
3. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot and simmer the stock for 1 1/2-2 hours, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface of the liquid.
4. Strain the stock through a fine colander or cheesecloth. You may have to strain the liquid a few times to ensure all of the solids are removed.
5. Taste and adjust the broth seasoning with more fish sauce and or sugar.

*You can freeze any unused stock.

Pumpkin Wonton Recipe:
wonton wrappers
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup toasted walnuts* roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
pinch allspice
oil for frying, such as grapeseed, peanut or vegetable

1. Mix the pumpkin puree, sugar, spices and walnuts together.
2. Place 1 teaspoon of filling on each wonton wrapper.
3. Lightly moisten the edges of the wrapper with water.
4. Fold the edges of the wrapper together and pinch the edges to seal.
5. Preheat oil in a deep, heavy bottomed skillet to 350 degrees.
6. Place the prepared wontons in the hot oil and fry for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally or until golden brown.
7. Remove the wontons and drain on paper towel.
8. Sprinkle the wontons with cinnamon and icing sugar.

*To toast the nuts, place them in a frying pan over low heat. Toast the nuts, stirring frequently for about 8-10 minutes or until the nuts become fragrant. The nuts will burn very easily so keep an eye on them.


Kelly said...

I love the idea of a pumpkin wonton. I also really, really enjoy pho. In the times I've made it at home I've found having a really flavorful, well balanced broth is key.

abby said...

that looks great. i made beef pho but really do like the idea of a prawn (shrimp) version some time soon.

~Madeline~ said...

The pumpkin wonton was really good Kelly. I totally agree about the Pho, the broth is of utmost importance.

Thanks Abby :) I love beef Pho but the shrimp was great too.

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