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.


This challenge is unlike any of the other daring challenges I have taken part in for many reasons.

  • I made this within days of the previous announce date. (It’s been almost a month since I made this recipe – so my memory is a little bit hazy).
  • This is by far the easiest daring challenge I have ever seen (from the Cooks or Bakers), and that’s the point in Jaden’s book I guess, that great tasting food can be made quickly. Unfortunately it’s not really the point of the Daring Cooks. I am a little disappointed that the challenge has been put aside for what is in all fairness an advert for a new cookbook. But I like Jaden and follow her on twitter – so I am not too upset 🙂 I just hope it doesn’t start happening every month.
  • I had all the ingredients and utensils to hand. Being rather new to the baking and cooking, when I try something new, often I have never tried anything even remotely similar. I don’t have the marble work surface for making puff pastry (made do without though), the piping bag for mallow cookies and all the new spices. I lack the basics. This time my extensive collection of asian spices really helped out.

The necessary step was to toast a selection of spices coriander seeds, cloves and star anise (none of which were allowed to be pre-ground). I have to say toasting in a hot pan for 7 minutes did release a wonderful smell, but didn’t visually make any difference (I was expecting them to brown a little).


You then add all the rest of the ingredients (chicken, ginger, stock, fish sauce) and simmer for 20 minutes.


Not the most appealing shot, admittedly, I have to say I have problems with skimming. I understand the froth isn’t attractive, but it seems to difficult to skim without losing the coriander seeds, that are to add the flavour.

Then you remove the chicken (I used one breast) and tear it up. Straining the liquid to remove the spices.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, normally I find noodle soups dead boring, with not a huge amount of flavour. Especially those served at Chinese restaurants. The one problem is that because the noodles are added so last minute they don’t actually taste of much. So I would probably cut the amount of noodles, as while they make this soup a proper meal they don’t add a huge amount in taste.

I will most likely make this recipe again, it is so easy, quick, tasty and filling that it is well worth it!

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
  • Sliced mushrooms, cooked in the strained soup (if you try to fry them then you end up with oil soup).


  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.