A quick version of the Vietnamese soup.
2.5 litres chicken stock
8 black peppercorns
2 cm piece fresh ginger, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp crisp fried shallots*
1–1½ tbsp fish sauce
1 chicken breast fillet, trimmed
500g fresh round rice noodles
3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
90g (1 cup) bean sprouts, tails trimmed
3 tbsp Vietnamese mint
3 tbsp Thai basil
2 small red chillies and sliced lime wedges, to serve
*Crisp fried shallots are available from Asian supermarkets.
1. Put the stock in a wok with 125 ml (½ cup) of water, the peppercorns, ginger, onion, crisp fried shallots, fish sauce and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat so the stock is just simmering and cook for 5 minutes. Put the chicken fillet in the stock and gently poach for 12–15 minutes, or until just cooked through and tender. Remove the chicken, shred and set aside. Strain the stock, then return it to a clean wok and bring to a simmer.
2. Put the noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Gently separate them, then drain and rinse under cold water and divide among four serving bowls. Top the noodles with the shredded chicken, then ladle on the stock. Garnish with the chopped coriander, bean sprouts, mint, basil and chilli slices. Serve with lime wedges on the side.