This isn’t of course, anything like pot noodle. I’m not even sure why I call it that other than, when there are left overs, I put it in a glass Weck jar/pot and it’s so easy to reheat and before you know it you have something ludicrously tasty and nutritious to eat.
My children love this. The original recipe calls for chilli (1 red, sliced), salad onions and pak choi. You can still add the former at the same time you add the star anise, if you wish, and the latter when I add the ‘veg’.
It’s wonderfully fragrant, really amazing smelling, the kind of soupy meal that feels like it’s doing good just by raising a bowl of it to your nose and sniffing it in. If you’re going out for a family day out/walk (or even, you know, by yourself) it’s great to make in advance, stick in the fridge, and within minutes of coming home you can have something to eat.
Its original name is Fragrant Chicken Hot Pot and it’s adapted from a Waitrose magazine recipe from last year.
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
4-6 free range chicken thigh fillets (or still on the bone see note later) cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 star anise
1 tablespoon of light brown muscovado sugar
500ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
Some green veg: spinach or French beans, whatever you like: a big handful.
Two nests of Vermicelli or other noodles (or more than that if you want a more noodley experience)
This is what you do:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then fry the chicken for about 10 minutes until browned.
If using whole thighs on the bone (see my note later) do this for the same amount of time but to make sure the chicken is cooked simmer the actual soup for longer than the ten minutes recommended below.
Now stir in the garlic, star anise (and chilli if using). Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the sugar and stir around for a minute or so until melted.
Now add the stock and fish sauce, cover the pan and simmer for ten minutes – fifteen if you’re using chicken thighs on the bone.
Whilst this is simmering, prepare the noodles according to your instructions. The vermicelli nests I use just have to sit in boiling water for five minutes, so are simplicity itself.
Now add any veg you are using and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, depending on what you are using. Taste and add more seasoning if needed (I never need to). Serve! It’s delicious. Any left overs can be stored in the fridge for a day or two and just reheated well making for a really lovely, quick, meal.
A note about the chicken. Ready filleted chicken thighs make this more expensive, but easier. I tend to use thighs on the bone with the skin on. You could either skin and fillet them before cooking or, what I do, is just take the skin off (otherwise it makes the dish way too fatty) and cook the thighs on the bone. I think it also adds to the flavour. Then when cooked, I take the chicken out of the stock (whilst the veg are cooking, say) and take off the meat whilst trying to not scald my fingers. This is also a good way to make sure the chicken is cooked as chicken thighs vary in size and you need to be sensible.
Because I make this to last over two meals, I can get away with just taking off the outer meat to get a meal ‘for now’ and then when the meat has cooled down, I strip it all off the bone, add it to the broth and then store ready to go, like that, in the fridge.