Monday, January 12, 2015

Udon Chicken Noodle Soup

When my aunts came for a week of visit two months ago, I was picking their brains about Asian cooking. Most of the time, my Asian meals are really plain... something kids friendly. When my aunts cooked us the Vietnamese noodle soup (or Pho), I was super impressed with the flavor. Then Na Lek told me that I can even add udon noodles to make it into a thick noodle soup. Then it darned on me that the thick soup was my favorite breakfast when I was young. Yes, I actually ate soup for breakfast.

During the coldest week in the Autumn, I decided to test the udon noodle soup. I read many recipes to check and see the timing of cooking chicken thighs. After that, I tested the recipe by simply starting with the chicken broth.

I cooked the udon noodles before but not this way. I also made La Naa (a Thai noodle dish) many times before, so I adapted the same techniques. When I served my kids the soup, their reaction was "I can eat this every day." YES!!! But I decided to tweak the recipe to add more proteins. Instead of using tapioca starch, I added egg yolks. The soup came out very creamy and thick, perfect for wintery day.

NOTE: When buying fresh, frozen, or dried udon noodles, look for the ones that are made with either wheat or gluten free flour with water and salt. There shouldn't really be other ingredients added. Some udon noodles don't even have salt added which is a big plus if you are cutting down on sodium.

Udon Chicken Noodle Soup
serve 4-6

6 cups water
3 pieces of chicken thighs (skin and bones in)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4-6 serving of udon noodles
3 Tablespoon tapioca starch or 2-3 egg yolks
Fish sauce to taste
Garnish: fried eggs, chopped cilantro, chopped spring onions, fried garlic, fried peppers or hot sauce
  1.  In a large pot, bring water to a boil.
  2. Add chicken thighs, salt, black pepper, and ginger.
  3. Bring the water to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Take out about 1/2 cup of the broth and set aside the chicken thighs.
  5. Add the udon noodles and cook them according to the direction on the package.
    NOTE: Thaw the noodles in the boiling broth. After the noodles are cooked, cut them into an inch long. If the noodles are fresh or dry, cut or break them into an inch long before adding them into the broth.
  6. While the noodles are cooking, shred the chicken thighs, discarding the skins and bones.
  7. Follow these instructions if using tapioca starch.
    a. Whisk the tapioca into the reserved cool broth. Set aside.
    b. Once the noodles are cooked, add the tapioca broth into the boiling soup.
    c. Proceed to Step 9.
  8. Follow these instructions if using egg yolks.
    a. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk them. Set aside.
    b. Once the noodles are cooked, slowly add the hot broth into the egg yolks while whisking. NOTE: This technique is called tempering the egg yolks. The egg yolks are cooked slowly and become creamy and not scrambled.
    c. Add the egg yolk broth into the boiling soup.
    d. Proceed to Step 9.
  9. Place the shredded chickens back into the broth.
  10. Bring the broth into a gentle boil. Then turn off the heat.
  11. Add fish sauce to taste.
  12. Spoon the soup into a single serving bowl. Garnish if desired. Enjoy!!!
STORING: Keep the udon chicken noodle soup in a container in a fridge for up to 3 days. Warm the soup in a microwave or on a stove top. If the soup is too thick, add a little bit of chicken broth or water to dilute.

Allergy Info: This udon chicken noodle soup is free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), and nuts. If you are allergic to fish, omit the fish sauce and add sea salt instead. For gluten free diet, be sure to use gluten free noodles. If you are allergic to eggs, thicken the soup with tapioca flour instead of egg yolks.

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