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Your grandmother may make a great chicken soup, but mine is a bit more contemporary and, I'm willing to guess, a lot more interesting. Aromatic Sichuan peppercorns and a salty aromatic Ramen Base make this soup one that will surprise and delight you.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
• 1 frying chicken, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (675 g), split in half
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
• 3 tablespoons sake
• 8 ounces (225 g) dried inaniwa or udon noodles
• 2 quarts SHANTON BROTH
• 3/4 cup Ramen Base (recipe below)
• 1 bunch of scallions, green parts only, julienned
• 1/4 cup peanut oil
1. Place the chicken in a deep pot and pour in enough cold water to cover. Add the salt, Sichuan peppercorns, and sake. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam as it rises to the top. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked.
2. While the chicken is simmering, cook the noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender, about 1 minute, or as directed on the package. Drain and set aside.
3. As soon as the chicken is done, remove it to a colander and let stand until cool enough to handle. (The water the chicken was cooked in can be reserved for stock or discarded.) Pull the meat off the bones, removing the skin as you do so. Shred half the the chicken into bite-size pieces. Reserve the remainder for another purpose.
4. In a large saucepan, bring the Shanton Broth to a boil. Put about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Ramen Base into each of 6 to 8 soup bowls. Divide the cooked noodles among the bowls and pour the hot broth over the noodles. Top each bowl with a mound of shredded chicken and the julienned scallions on top of that. (The scallions should reach above the level of the broth.)
5. Quickly heat the peanut oil in a small heavy skillet until it just begins to smoke. Immediately pour 2 teaspoons of peanut oil over the scallion in each bowl and serve.
RAMEN BASE (Makes about 1 cup)
Known as men cha in Japanese, this seasoning mixture provides instant flavor to any broth. You can make it in advance and keep it in the refrigerator for weeks.
• 1 cup white soy sauce, available in Asian specialty stores
• 1/4 cup sake
• 2 tablespoons salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 1 inch (2 1/2 cm) of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
• 2 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch (4 cm) lengths
• 1 1/2 teaspoons white peppercorns
1. Mix together the white soy sauce, sake, salt, sugar, and water.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the oil, garlic, ginger, scallions, and white peppercorns. Cook over low heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Pour the white soy mixture into the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Strain before using.
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