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Now, to the recipe:
The other day I happened across an episode of “The Mind of a Chef.” (How did I miss this show before?) In this episode (“Simplicity”), host and chef David Chang finds places where the chefs have pared everything back to its most simplistic.
While the episode was great, at one point Chang frustrated me entirely. He gives instructions on how to make a simple chicken noodle soup, but blasts through the process with no detail. Example: at one point he instructs us to “boil the shit out of [the broth].” Not very helpful.
But, always on the lookout for good recipes, I spent some time this weekend reconstructing (or deconstructing) Chang’s method from the brief clip. One innovation is to cook the chicken and vegetables separately. A common problem with chicken broth is that the vegetables can overpower the chicken, but by separating the two, Chang makes it possible for us to adjust the mixture according to personal preference and to account for, say, a particularly strong onion or exceptionally sweet carrot.
The result was, in all humbleness, nothing short of excellent.
Chicken Noodle Soup a la David Chang
- One 8 qt stock pot
- One 4 qt stock pot
- 6 quarts water (divided)
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 white onions
- 2-3 scallions
- 2 shallots
- 1 carrot
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- Freshly ground pepper
- Soy sauce
- Sesame Oil
- Noodles of your choice (udon, fettuccine, egg, etc.)
- Garnishes of your choice (chopped scallions, hard-cooked egg, bamboo shoots, sliced mushrooms, etc.)
Prepare the ingredients
- Fill each pot halfway (4 qts water in 8 qt pot, 2 qts water in 4 qt pot). Put them on stove over a med-high heat.
- Disjoint the chicken and salt it liberally, working the salt into the meat.
- Put the chicken pieces (including the giblets) into the large pot of heating water.
- Coarsely grind some fresh black pepper into the pot (6-8 grinds)
- Peel and cut the onions and shallots in half.
- Cut the scallions and carrot into 4-inch lengths.
- Put onions, shallots, scallions, carrot, and garlic into the smaller pot of heating water.
Cook the broths
- Bring both pots to a simmer and turn down the heat. Let them simmer for one hour.
- After one hour, pull the chicken breasts, legs, and thighs from the pot. Let them cool; pick the meat off the bones and reserve. Return the bones, skin, and gristle to the large pot.
- Bring both pots to a slow, gentle boil and let them cook for two hours, uncovered. (This is the “cook the shit” out of them portion.)
- After two hours, the volume should have been reduced to about half.
- Strain the vegetable broth, discard the veg, and return the broth to the smaller pot.
- Strain the chicken broth, discard the bones, skin, etc. De-fat the broth and return the broth to the larger pot.
For each serving, prepare a bowl as follows:
- Break the chicken meat into bite-sized pieces and put a serving in the bottom of the bowl.
- Add 2 tbsp of soy sauce (see Notes, below).
- Add 1/2 tsp of sesame oil
- Add some of the garnish elements (chopped scallions and sliced mushrooms are good here)
- Bring the chicken broth to a boil and cook your noodles in the broth, according to specifications for your choice.
- Strain into a bowl to separate cooked noodles and broth.
- Add a serving of noodles to each bowl.
- Add 1 and 1/2 cup chicken broth to each bowl (see Notes, below).
- Add 1/4 cup vegetable broth to each bowl.
- Place final garnishes on top of noodles.
- I recommend starting with a 6:1 chicken:vegetable stock ratio, but you can adjust this to your preference.
- Play with the amounts of soy sauce and sesame oil for each serving, also. I would not recommend going higher than 2 tbsp soy per bowl, but play with it and see how you like it.
- For extra flavor, add a spoonful of warm chicken fat (reserved from the broth de-fatting step) to the final assembly.