Work has been busy with two food shoots for the magazine that fell only weeks apart. With my new role of styling for the food shoots too there is more to consider. More shopping, more sourcing, more research. I went straight into a catering job on the Saturday after the last shoot that saw me pulling hours reminiscent of my old chef days.
By the time Sunday morning hit I felt strangely elated that it was all over. And so tired I felt like i’d been hit by a bus. I took great pleasure in sitting on the couch (in the middle of the day!) watching Game of Thrones while I sipped strong, freshly brewed coffee.
It was finally time to slow down. With work all organised, tested, and photographed, it’s back to the simpler things in life like – yoga – and chicken noodle broth…
And strangely enough, even after lots of cooking, the best way I know to slow down is to cook some more. But when the cooking is purely for the pleasure of eating and for the nourishment of my body then it’s not considered work. It’s just life.
So, start with a good free-range chicken. The quality of the chicken is important. It’s goodness leaches out into the broth as it simmers gently with an assortment of aromatics of fresh ginger, kaffir lime, chilli and cardamon. The broth starts to build a slightly complex flavour. Yet this flavour is subtle and soft. When the udon noodles are added to the broth they are not over-powered. With the sweet borth urging you on you will have a strong urge to slurp those noodles all the more loudly. And do it I say. Because slurping of noodles is not only acceptable but totally necessary and actually quite satisfying.
A pot of this sweet broth will feed a crowd. Though it’s imperative that the noodles are cooked to order and this should be done with only the portion of broth you intend to serve.
The udon noodles I buy are portioned into 90g serves, which is the perfect size for one person. If there’s two, use two portions, and so on… The remaining broth can be stored for several days. You heat it and cook more noodles as required. It also freezes well. So portion it up and keep it frozen for those days you have where slowing down is necessary and cooking is not.
Chicken ginger and udon noodle broth
1.6kg free range chicken
2 brown onions, quartered
2 carrots, chopped
2 large sticks celery, chopped
5cm piece of ginger, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 chilli, split down the middle
1 bunch of coriander root and stem
6 cardamon pods
10 black peppercorns
1/3 cup sweet soy sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 litres water
Udon noodles (allow 90g per person)
Picked coriander leaves
Sliced green spring onions
Baby spinach leaves, or any Asian green vegetable
Hot chilli sauce
Chinese red vinegar
Place the chicken in a large pot, add the onions, carrot, celery, ginger, garlic, kaffir lime, chilli, coriander root, cardamon pods, black peppercorns and both the soy sauces. Add 3 litres of cold water, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, skim off any impurities that rise to the top and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stand chicken in the broth for another 15 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside on a tray. Once cool enough to handle, discard the skin and shred chicken into thin strips. Discard the bones, set chicken aside.
Strain the broth into a medium sized pan, press the vegetables into the strainer to squeeze all the flavour from the cooked veg, discard the vegetables. Skim off any excess fat and taste for seasoning.
Mix together some Chinese red vinegar and hot chilli sauce.
To serve, heat the amount of broth required, once it comes to the boil add the udon noodles and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, add shredded chicken and divide between bowls. Garnish with spinach, coriander leaves and green onions. Spoon over some hot chilli and vinegar sauce, squeeze a wedge of fresh lime on top and eat immediately.