A few weekends ago I boarded a train to Hackney in order to attend a very exciting day of Vietnamese cooking. When I arrived at said class I was greeted by a very friendly face, 2 gorgeous puppies and a punch of the yummiest most comforting aromas you could wish for. Leluu’s classes provide one of the few opportunities in London to learn about the art of Vietnamese cooking. I cannot recommend this class highly enough, it was like cooking in a friends kitchen, complete with mum.
Vietnamese cuisine is slowly growing in popularity here in London but its slow moving. Being from Melbourne I have always been exposed to Vietnamese flavours and dishes and it was quite a disappointment when I moved to London 5 years ago to discover that a Vietnamese restaurant was harder to find than a decent coffee. Alas 5 yeas later I now have some knowledge to try to produce these exciting dishes in my own kitchen.
Let me be clear that the following recipe is not a Vietnamese dish, but it is inspired by some of the ingredients from Leluu’s Beef Pho.
When I think of a chicken noodle soup I think of comfort and fluffy blankets. A Pho is supposed to awaken you, it satisfy the yin and yang and as I have used some of the same ingredients this will now be my new comfort soup and healer of all colds and flu and if I’m really lucky it might even be a healer of man flu, imagine that!
Makes 2 Large serves
– 2 free range chicken legs
-1.5 Lts water
-2 small carrots chopped into quarters
-1/2 large charred onion
-2 chunks of charred ginger
-2 sticks of celery chopped into quarters
-2 tsp of rock sugar (available in Vietnamese supermarkets, or just use ordinary sugar)
-3 star anise
-thumb length piece of cinnamon stick
-1 vegetable stock cube
-1 tbsp of good quality fish sauce (I have learnt that this makes a difference)
-1 clove of garlic
-Rice or Tapioca Flour noodles
First start by charring the onion and ginger a little, you don’t want charcoal, just some colour to enhance the flavour. Now prepare your vegetables and spices. Boil the water and add the stock, throw all of the vegetables and spices in and let it boil for about 10 mins while you prepare your chicken.
Wash your chicken legs and remove the skin. Place into the boiling stock, replace lid, turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 2 hours, checking the water level every now and then and skim any skum from the surface of the broth.
After 2 hours, add the fish sauce. Leave for another 30 mins and then taste and season. You may find you need to balance the flavours a little with a dash more sugar or fish sauce.
After the broth has had 2.5 hours to infuse, turn off the heat, strain the broth and put the vegetables and spices aside, you can use these for something else or to make a further batch of stock.
Place the noodles into a large bowl of boiling water, cover with a teatowl and leave to soften for 15-20 mins.
While the noodles are softening remove the chicken from the bones. Once the noodles are ready, construct your soup. Place noodles into the bowl with a generous amount of chicken. Cover with the lovely clear broth and top with bean sprouts. Finish it off with finely chopped coriander and spring onions.