Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cooks' #6 Phở and Wontons

Vietnamese Phở and Sweet Wontons


The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

Recipe Source: Jaden of Steamy Kitchen from her new book The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

This month's challenge is in two parts:
1.A fresh fragrant noodle soup from Vietnam called phở I have had phở at the local shops and it's such a calming health-restoring concoction it bursts with the flavours of toasted star anise, cloves and coriander and charred ginger and onion in a flavoursome broth that is clear and full of yummy ingredients. We could either make the quick version using store bought stock see recipe below, or, you can make the longer version listed here, or the beef version listed here.
2.Sweet deep fired wontons with our choice of filling.

Also this month we had the extra bonus of a competition for the best photograph of the phở and the most creative filling in the wontons.

Thank you Jaden of Steamy Kitchen a fabulous recipe for pho. This is the most delicious challenge so far I think and that is saying a lot.

Here is a great site that lists the various phos available and has audio recordings on how to say them also. See here for a discussion about the Qualities of a Great bowl of Pho.

Types of pho (phở)
bo (beef)
bo chin (sliced well-done steak),
bo tai (sliced rare steak),
nam (flank),
ve don (crunchy flank),
gau (fatty brisket),
gan (tendon),
sach (tripe),
bo vien (beef meatballs, normally with tendon),
ga (chicken) and
hai san (seafood).

I thought I would do a number of each.


Decadent luxury seafood pho (Phở tô sự phong phú sự xa xỉ hải sản)

Since there wasn't a seafood stock recipe supplied I used the fish stock I made for Olga's Spanish Seafood Challenge. I made a home-made super concentrated fish/prawn soup stock (see below) the specks on top are powdered seaweed (kelp). I used about 4 kgs of fish bones/prawn shells to make the soup stock. It was solid when cooled. I used the spices that were required in the reveal challenge. This formed the basis of the pho. The soup stock is the most important component of the recipe it must be super tasty and very flavoursome with a large amount of bone marrow. It is very hard to make fish stock solid at room temperature this shows how much fish bone-marrow and prawn shell-gelatin was extracted. Since so much marrow and gelatin was extracted the stock had an excellent mouth feel and a depth of flavour that was deep and mellow. It smelt of the ocean and tasted DELICIOUS, it sure packed a punch! Certainly the BEST stock I have made in my entire life. Also the burnt ginger and onion really added to the complexity to the soup. I spent a lot of time making the soup clear, constantly skimming the scum off the simmering soup, using the 'raft' (consommé) method to clarify the soup then straining through fine muslin cloth a few times. This is the reason why the soup is so clear. The results were worth it.

Salmon bone and prawn shell stock

Garnish – chilli flower with mint centre

Some ingredients for the soup also I used seaweed noodels.

Seafood ingredients for soup – prawns, clams, mussels, crab claw, octopus, cuttle fish, fish sticks, seasoned seaweed and flying fish roe (eggs), deep fried baby crab, and sea urchin eggs. This amount is for one serving! This was a very expensive soup about $4 per serve.

Completed decadent luxury seafood pho

Superior mouth-feel Phở with tendon, beef and tripe and home-made basil/coriander/mint noddles

Below is a 1 litre block of stock made from roast beef bones, beef feet and beef tendon that had been simmered for many hours until the tendon melted completely. I always leave the shredded cooked meat in the stock when I chill it in the fridge since the gelatinous stock preserves the meat I have even used this as a brawn. If I need pure stock I remove the meat by straining when I reheat it. It is hard to see from the photo but you can see through it.

Tendon, Roasted Beef Bone and Beef Feet Stock

Superior mouth feel Pho with tendon, beef and tripe and home-made basil/coriander/mint noodles.
I wanted to make a pho that had a superior mouth feel so this pho has a large quantity of tendon that had been simmered until it was mouth-meltingly soft, with was served in a tendon, roasted beef bone and beef feet stock. This pho had an incredible texture yet still light and fragrant. Served with home-made basil/coriander/mint noodles.


Tripe Phở

Here is tripe stock simmered for 8 hours it is coloured pink. Again I always leave the meat in the stock when I chill it. It preserves the meat really well. Pure tripe stock is so so good and hard to find nowadays except at home it is under-valued.


Tripe Stock


Tripe pho
The tripe in this pho was simmered until tender and pink. A delicious offal pho served with rice noodles.

Rich Oscillating Wontons
Quail eggs where on special two dozen for $2 so I thought I would go with them and they would fit into a wonton parcel so well. And since poultry eggs and fish roe go so well together I thought I would do savoury wontons. I made home-made wonton wrappers using the Chinese pot-sticker challenge recipe. I wanted a very rich voluptuous luscious wonton and two types of eggs would do that and I thought that sansho (a Japanese spice that heats and cools the taste-buds) would really add some interest to the filling. Cool mint and hot chilli would further accentuate the affect of sansho. It took a few tries to get the spice/herb mix correct so I got hot/cool, sour/sweet and bitter/salty and umami well balanced.

The final taste test was a wonton that exploded richness with the charred, roasted and toasted vegetables giving a mellow depth of palate pleasing substance. The sansho and the mint/chilli and other ingredients seemed to cause an oscillation in the taste-buds they couldn't or wouldn't want to decide which taste sensation the wonton was hot or cool, sweet or sour, bitter and umami, this finely tuned balancing act between opposite taste sensations was so delicious I could of eaten all 12 myself. I served them with mushroom oyster sauce (which adds umami taste). Yumminess personified.

Ingredients for my egg on egg savoury wontons – quail eggs, flying fish roe, and a rough chop of red chillies, red roasted capsicums, a lot of mint, coriander, charred ginger/onion, fresh and roasted garlic, and a little spicy hot Chinese sausage, salt/sugar. The speckles on the quail eggs is sansho (ground Japanese prickly ash tree pods) which is delightful spice that heats and cools the taste-buds at once.

Preparing wontons for deep-frying

Golden deep fried oscillating hot/cold quail egg & flying fish egg wontons

Cut wontons

Flying fish roe has a lovely crunch and then a ooze of flavour they went well with the quail eggs and the sansho with the chilli/mint/coriander and charred ginger/onion really produced a lovely constantly changing taste experience (that is oscillating between the different taste sensations) in each bite. Very unusual and such an interesting taste experience. Yum Yum.

Rainbow Inebriated Fruit Salad Wontons
I had a few of my mates from the footy club over and they like to have boozy desserts. So I thought for experimental purposes that I would do inebriated fruit as the filling. I soaked the fruit pieces for 3 days in highly coloured liqueurs which produced a lurid coloured filling for the wontons. They were very strong and I suggest only one is enough. Pretty good and a very unusual filling for a wonton. Serve with plain ice-cream. I thought the filling would have too many flavours but that wasn't the case, the pieces keep there own flavours and it was nice to eat the fruit pieces and the crispy wonton wrapper with the ice-cream. This filling was very brightly coloured!!! It literally gave me the shudders because of its visual violence and its frightening alcohol content. You can have too much of a good thing. It provoked a lot of comments mainly surprise on how good it tasted and fearfulness on its jarring visual discordance.

Starting from the top bright red fruit pieces - watermelon in red cherry liqueur, pear in pear liqueur, green dewmelon in dewmelon liqueur, mango in banana liqueur, cherries in clear chocolate liqueur, pineapple in vodka, grapes in sweet wine, and the bright blue is apple in Blue Curacao liqueur.

I wrapped the highly-alcoholic filling in rice paper wontons and then deep-fried them. They look very pretty when covered in the fried rice paper.

Waratah-Shaped Six Taste Sensation Wontons
I wanted to make wontons that exploited all the six taste sensations which come in three opposite pairs – (sweet/sour), (salty/bitter) & (umami/fatty acid). Most people are familiar with the first 2 pairs of tastes while umami is the savoury taste sensation in mushrooms or soy sauce and fatty acid is the fatty mouth-feel taste sensation in gelatinous soup stocks. So I designed a sweet wonton filling that had all these six tastes combinated in a way that simulated and enhanced each of these sensations. Also I wanted a beautiful looking wonton when cut. After I deep-fried the wontons I lightly coated them with salt and which gave the salty component, pomegranate/rose/cherry/coconut gave the sweet component, lime zest gave the sour component, bitter orange peel gave the bitter component, while a combination of Ketjap Manis, basil syrup and olive oil gave the umami and the fatty acid components. I added a number of herbs and spices (including cocoa) to compliment the six taste sensations. The syrup was exactly right for the sweet wontons. It really added the correct flavour contrast to the taste sensations of the wontons. Certainly the cocoa, cardamom and fennel were the winners in the filling. It took about 3 attempts to get the filling ingredients correctly balanced. The taste-testers (and I ) really liked the salty at first wontons then the sweetness of pomegranate with an rose/cherry/coconut overertone and the contrasting taste of the syrup and finally a spicy cocoa/cardamom/fennel undertone that completed the experience. It was very well-balanced.

Filling - Pomegranate, rose jelly (gello), cherry, coconut, mint, lime zest, bitter orange peel, lemongrass, cocoa powder, cardamom, cumin, fennel, chilli with a reduced Ketjap Manis/basil/olive oil syrup.

I was very pleased when I cut them the wonton filling was glossy and full of lovely rose jelly (gello) showing off the pomergranate and mint. The cut wontons looked like glass-flowers!

Ingredients for the filling

Deep-fried wontons

Final version
What do waratahs look like - very similar to the cut wonton

Ketjap Manis/basil/olive oil syrup. Make a simple syrup from equal quantities of water, sugar, olive oil and ketjap manis (combine in a saucepan, bring to a boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved). Cool to room temp. Add rinsed basil leaves in the ratio of 1 bunch to 1.5 cups of syrup and blend into a purée. Allow to macerate 20-30 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh sieve and refrigerate.

Challenge #1: Vietnamese Chicken Pho
Variations – Pho:
1. You like: 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.

Challenge #2: Chocolate Wontons
Recipe Source: Jaden of Steamy Kitchen from her new book The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.
Posting Date: October 14, 2009
*Note: This second dessert challenge is about being creative with filling and form. Knock yourselves out!
Variations – Chocolate Wontons:
1. Can be shaped any way you want, not just triangles as pictured. Can even be layered like napoleons.
2. Can be filled with your choice of filling, doesn’t have to be chocolate. But the fillings and final wonton must be SWEET - these are DESSERT wontons - to be eligible for a chance to win a book.
3. Creativity counts with this bonus dessert recipe for a chance at winning a copy of Jaden’s new cookbook!

• Small bowl
• Pastry brush
• Plastic wrap and/or damp paper towels
• Wok or medium-sized pot
• Frying thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil temperature by dropping in a cube of bread … if it browns quickly, the oil is ready)
Preparation time: 15 minutes + 15 minutes cooking time (for 12 wontons)
Servings: Makes 12 wontons.
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)
High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling
1.In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
2.On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down with a point toward you, like a diamond.
3.Place 1 piece of chocolate near the top end of the wrapper.
4.Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.
5.Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
6.Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces.
7.Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
8.In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.
9.Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.
10.Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.


Basht said...

wow, blown away as always... love the all of the colours!

Junglefrog said...

Ooo Audax... really... where do you find the time to make all these variations every single time! I am totally impressed and love all the flavors you have used! It looks gorgeous and having tasted the pho myself I am sure it was delicious!

Jenny said...

Audax, once again you go above and beyond! I would love a taste of all your creations (well, maybe I'll pass on the tripe one :) ), but especially the seafood pho looks absolutely gorgeous!

Ajonjoli said...

wow!!! what an amazing amount of work!!! The seafood pho looks awesome!!

chriesi said...

Great job as always!

Jenn said...

I love your creativity with making all of these different versions! Amazed as always!

Isolated Foodie said...

Gorgeous bowls of pho! Your stocks all look so incredibly rich. My seafood broth had a fraction of the seafood yours did. I'm supposed to be finishing washing the refrigerator shelving, but I'm glad I took a break to come see these (and the glimpse I got of your vol-au-vents, too)!

Rochelle said...

Love your Pho! I saw all that sea food and just drooled a little I think! When I can get some fresh sea food I'll try it this way.

The wontons also look great! I want to try the drunken ones ;)

Asha @ FSK said...

Decadent indeed!! your pho is such a delight! and I love the disco colors of the fruit wanton esp. the blue apples!

Rose said...

You made your own noodles?! Well done my friend! I had missed that part before :D Everything looks beautiful (as always). Your wonton varieties are stunning.

Thank you, again, for all your contributions on the forum :) You certainly are daring with all your fruit colors! Love it!

maybelle's mom said...

great job Audax as always.

Woman with a Whisk said...

Audax, you always amaze me with your creativity with these challenges! The seafood pho looks fanfreakintastic. Great job, as always.

Peggy Bourjaily said...

Oooh I love that you made a seafood pho!! Looks amazing.

chef_d said...

Wow incredible!

Lolah said...

What a great job! The seafood pho looks fantastic...and the rainbow wontons are fabulous.

pigpigscorner said...

OMG amazing as always! loove all your pho and wontons! the pomegranate one looks amazing.

Amy I. said...

I love all of your extremely colorful variations! Wonderful, inspiring work!

TeaLady said...

So flavorful. So colorful. So amazing.

Anula said...

Love the look of your Pho - so colorful and comforting. Could eat all your wontons straight away! Cheers from cool Ireland :)

Lauren said...

Everything looks so delicious, and very Daring! Wonderful job =D.

Margie said...

I am so jealous of your mad skills! I LOVE making rich gelatinous stocks that stand up on their own -- your seafood stock looks succulent. Cool tip about freezing the meat in the broth. And congrats on those colorful and sensational wontons.

Jenni said...

As always, Audax, you rocked this challenge. All your phos and all your wontons look simply fantastic!

Maria Beatrix said...

This is not a blog. This is a cooking class! Audax you rock, as always.

bake in paris said...

You have done the most adventurous and elaborate cooking in this challenge. Kudos to your powerful efforts and creativity!


climbhighak said...

I almost reached for my leftover fish stock for a seafood version. Instead now I have two leftover stocks in the freezer. Excellent work on the challenge. I thought the savory wonton was very unique.

Lauren said...

You tried so many different variations, and they all look so good! You have given me so many ideas as to how I will make pho next time. Thanks!

Olive said...

WOW! you're so creative, I like everything you made, so colorful and vibrant, I specially like what you did with the chilli..

Have a nice day, Audax! :)

Winnie said...

You are so amazingly thorough...why can't I see your beautiful pictures on your blog though?

TaGa_Luto said...

Ever since i joined DC, you and Robert's blogs and pics are the ones that i look forward too. Oh, that didn't sound right=;) I do look forward to everyones but you guys are my first! I'm at an aww w/ all the wonderful interpretation you come up with. I love tendons and tripes. I know it's an acquired taste but we grew up w/ lots of dishes using offals. Altho' i've not tried making broth out of them, it's going to be in my to do list. I love your wontons..i've also tried frying rice papers but mine always end up soggy.

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

So creative! Your phos each look fantastic. The wonton challenge was a great opportunity to try crazy things - love what you did with them!

singinghorse said...

As usual, Audax, you did an awesome job! That's an understatement. I haven't had any food yet, and all these foods are making me soooooooooo hungry. :) Kudos!

Debbie said...

Really enjoyed all the pictures ... I usually peruse all the pictures first and then go back and read! Your chili flower/mint creation is one I am going to use.

Julia @ Mélanger said...

Just fantastic. I am not a Daring Cook (just baker!) so didn't tackle this myself, but really am impressed by what you serve up, literally, each time!

Shandy said...

I am so curious about tripe. So many people seemed alarmed by it but I have wondered what kind of flavor tripe has?

All your phos are amazing and so are the wontons! Just beautiful and talented.

Lisa Michelle said...

I am totally blown away, Aud. Then again, what else is new?? the colors are and creativity, from soup (dying over the seafood version) to wonton, are spectacular and so delicious looking. I haven't checked to see who won the most creative wonton filling yet, but if it isn't you, i'd be shocked!

Lori said...

I have to say that you are THE most thorough guy I 'know'. Leave no stone unturned. Most of these pictures look like mini gardens. As always throughly impressed by your dedication, devotion and sense of adventure,

Barbara Bakes said...

You are just so creative! An amazing post! I was so happy that you commented on my post on this month's completed DB challenge. It made me smile to get your stamp of approval. Thanks!

Faery said...

Love, love all this variety they look favulous and delicious , the pictures are great, really love all these colors.I want to eat them all.

Eat4Fun said...

Audax.. Terrific pho and won tons. Love variations... I've been thinking about cooking up some tripe and you have a recipe for tripe. The problem on my end is getting everyone else to eat tripe... lol. The neon fruit wontons really catch the eye.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Wow everything looks interesting, colorful and delicious!!!

oliviapo said...

Seafood ingredients for soup – prawns, clams, mussels, crab claw, octopus, cuttle fish, fish our site sticks, seasoned seaweed and flying fish roe (eggs), deep fried baby crab, and sea urchin eggs. This amount is for one here serving! This was a very expensive soup about $4 per serve.