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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Spicy Szechuan Chicken Noodle Soup

Oh hello there..
It's been a while.
It's not that I haven't been cooking.. I've been cooking like crazy!  It's just that I've been cooking variants of my already posted recipes and while I'm enjoying rediscovering ingredients, I missed you. .. a lot.
Since it is the Chinese or Lunar New Year, I had to make a Chinese dish at least once this week.. and when I say Chinese, I mean Sichuanese.  It's not that I don't appreciate other Chinese regional cuisines.. it's just that Szechuan just really really really rocks my boat.
This "soup" has a deep flavorful broth.  It is spicy, but it all really depends on the spiciness of your bean paste.  Weaklings stay away.
Welcome to the year of the Monkey!
Adapted from GourmetpersuAsian
Serves 4
2-3 large chicken legs with thighs, bone-in skin on
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
5 cups water
20 small Shiitake mushrooms
2 baby bok choy, leaves separated
1 large handful Chinese watercress leaves
juice from 1 lemon
lots of ground green peppercorns
3 knobs glass noodles (or egg noodles)
3 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp sugar
3 star anise
2 tsp five-spice powder
1 inch chunk ginger, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
4 Tbsp Doubanjiang (Pixian spicy broadbean paste)
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
4 soft boiled eggs (6 min steam)
chopped green onions
chopped cilantro
sesame oil
1.  Prepare the broth.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pot or dutch oven and add the chicken pieces.  Cook until lightly brown on all sides, then add the vinegar.  This part releases steam, so be prepared.
2.  Add the water, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done (the meat comes off the bone).  While this is happening, steam your eggs and prepare, chop, and slice the rest of the ingredients.
3.  Remove the chicken and let cool.
4.  Prepare the seasoning.  In a separate saucepan, heat the 3 Tbsp oil on high and add the sugar and let become golden.
5.  Add the star anise and five-spice powder and let bubble for 30 seconds before adding the ginger and garlic slices.
6.  Stir, all while keeping on the heat for another 30 seconds.  Then comes the flavor.  Add the 4 Tbsp doubanjiang.  This will make it too spicy for the weak.  It was perfect for me.  If you're unsure, use only 2 Tbsp and add more later into your own bowl (although the effect isn't the same).  Let bubble for another 30 seconds.
7.  Remove from heat and stir in the soy sauce.  Pour this mixture into the broth along with the mushrooms, bok choy, and watercress.  Keep the broth at a simmer.
8.  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and discard.  Put the meat back into the broth with its fellow citizens.  Add the lemon juice and grind some pepper in there.
9.  Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes to let the flavors infuse.
10.  Decide what to do with the noodles.  Depending on in you are going to finish everything in one sitting or will be having leftovers, you can decide to cook the noodles directly in the broth or separately.  I soaked mine separately because I knew I was going to have leftovers.
11.  Serve spooned over noodles garnished with 1 egg per person, the chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, and a few drops of sesame oil.
Eat with chopsticks for the optimum effect..
The greens in this are incredible.  I love how the bok choy whites stay crunchy while the leaves wilt into a heavenly stew partnership.
And slurp those noodles... don't dare cut them.  They symbolize a long and healthy life...

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