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Chicken Bun | Gourmet Gastronomer

Chicken Bun

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img_1137 When I think of the house where my friend Katie grew up, I think of her kitchen. Her kitchen overflows with food, ancient and recent—dried scallops given to her dad by clients, fruit baskets and See’s boxes of similar origin, the newest bizarre item from Trader Joe’s, leftover dim sum. I guess that’s what happens when you have five kids. My favorite thing to find in her kitchen is one of its staples—boiled chicken. So much better than its name, a whole chicken, covered with fresh water, and adorned only with some garlic cloves and some ginger does beyond its parts. Boil it for twenty minutes or so, take it of the heat, and let it finishing cooking as the water cools. At the end you have tender chicken and a clean, flavorful broth to boot. And that’s exactly what I wanted recently. So I made it. And then today, with nearly an entire chicken, I thought: Bun! Bun (there are accents involved) is a Vietnamese dish that has little in common with pork buns or hot cross buns. A cold noodle dish, it’s the perfect foil for leftover poached chicken. I’ve also made a tasty version with pork tenderloin, which hopefully will come along next week. (I promised myself I would do something about the somewhat lackluster offerings of the last two weeks, so I have a little pile of recipes working itself up.) But now to Chicken Bun. Because fresh herbs, crisp lettuce, and crunchy vegetables make up the bulk of this dish, it’s worth getting the best quality. If the meat is done and you use a food processor, this takes about 10 minutes to put together. The sauce will also stick around fine for a couple of weeks chilled and in an airtight container. You can always bastardize your bun a little (that sounds oddly wrong), making use of what you have on hand. This is a simple dish to prepare ahead, or for a crowd. The only thing that you need to leave time for is the chicken, but that is almost entirely hands off... For Bun Vermicelli (follow package directions and quantities) Cucumber Carrot Daikon or Jicama Mint Cilantro Basil (Thai basil if possible) Mung beans Boiled chicken, cut into slices (see below) Dipping sauce (see below) For Chicken 1 3-3.5 pound chicken (I find smaller tend to taste better) 1 3 inch stalk of peeled ginger, cut into ¼ inch rounds 5 cloves garlic salt and pepper to taste For dipping sauce (nuoc cham) 1 cup fish sauce 1 hot cup water 1/3 cup fresh lime juice 1/4 cup white (or brown, brown works nicely) sugar 4 fresh red chilies, seeded 4 cloves garlic, peeled A full chicken serves 4-6. You can also eek this out as a weeks worth of dinners. Cut the ginger and peel the garlic, and toss into pot. Take chicken, rinse fully in and out, and put into pot. Cover chicken with water, and set to boil. When it comes to a boil, turn to simmer for about 20 minutes (try not to overcook, though cooling in the liquid means you prob will not dry it out). Skim any scum that comes up. Do this every now and again, when you think of it. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and leave covered to cool. You can easily make this ahead. If you do, store in the liquid in the fridge. The next day, skim off the fat on the top so you have a nice clear broth. When making the chicken for bun, I like to take off the skin (boiled skin, unlike roasted, holds little appeal in my book), Then I cut across the grain in thin, dip-friendly slices. Prepare noodles. Pay some attention as you do this—you don’t want them to get mushy. Rinse with cold water, and set aside. These can hang out as long as you want, since the dish is served cold. Put the chili, garlic, fish sauce, and brown sugar into a blender or food processor with the hot water. Give it a whirl. Take it out, stir in lime juice. (You can also make smaller batches of this sauce by adjusting quantities accordingly). Julienne all the vegetables (cut into thin matchsticks). If you want, you can quick-pickle some (like the carrot or cucumber) or all in a mixture of some rice vinegar and/or lime, sugar, and a bit of salt. Chiffonade the basil and mint, then the lettuce, and pick the leaves from the cilantro. Arrange them all on the plate (prettily, if you please) and divide the noodles within as many dishes as you have people. Give each a dish of dipping sauce, and dip in. [caption id="attachment_622" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="note to self...try to shoot photos when daylight remains..."]note to self...try to shoot photos when daylight remains...[/caption]

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