Chicken noodle hotpot with coconut milk and fresh leaves

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On our journey in Vietnam we had all sorts of hotpots, which were really more like soups with plenty of added ingredients - pork, chicken, fish and/or seafood, vegetables and herbs, with or without coconut milk. For this one-pot meal, I have used a combination of chicken and seafood. It’s perfect for lunch or a light supper.

Ingredients

  • 125 g thin wheat noodles
  • 2 fresh red chillies
  • large piece fresh root ginger
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 3 free-range boneless chicken breasts, skinned
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 50 g coconut milk powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water, or 100 ml coconut cream
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • several handfuls of mixed leaves (including baby spinach and plenty of mint)
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 250 g bean sprouts
  • 125 g cooked, peeled prawns, with tails intact
  • generous handful of coriander leaves
  • sea salt

Method

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until they are just soft, then drain in a sieve, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, and set aside.

Cut the chillies in half lengthways under running water and discard the seeds and stems, then slice across finely. Peel the ginger and garlic, cut into small pieces and then into very thin slivers. Slice the chicken breasts across thinly.

In a saucepan, bring the chicken stock to the boil, then remove from the heat, add the coconut milk paste or coconut cream and lemon juice and stir together thoroughly.

Combine the salad leaves and mint in a serving bowl; set aside.

Heat the groundnut oil in a flameproof casserole over a fairly high heat, then add the sliced ginger, garlic and chicken. Stir around briskly for about 2 minutes. Add the sliced chillies and bean sprouts, and continue to cook, stirring, for a further 1-2 minutes until the bean sprouts are just limp.

Now pour in the stock mixture and stir in the cooked noodles. Bring up to bubbling, then remove from the heat and add the prawns. Taste and add a little salt if needed. Finally, scatter the coriander leaves into the dish.

Put the bowl of salad leaves and mint on the table, along with the hotpot. To serve, ladle the hotpot into warmed soup bowls and encourage guests to throw leaves into their individual portions.

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