chicken / poultry family / friends

Chicken Sotanghon (Chicken Vermicelli Noodle Soup)

Friday, September 19, 2014Enz F

“Perhaps love is like a resting place, a shelter from the storm. It exists to give you comfort. It is there to keep you warm…” - John Denver

It is typhoon season again in the Philippines and while I was putting up this write-up, a number of provinces in Luzon were already under public storm signal no. 2 whereas many parts of Manila and Visayas Region were already submerged in floodwaters. There were reports that water level have already reached the second storey of some houses, forcing some residents to stay on their roofs until the water have subsided. Thank God, our house was spared as we are fortunately situated on an elevated residential area. Since Thursday evening, the country was being whipped by the harsh and incessant monsoon rains brought by the storm locally baptized as Mario (international code: Fung Wong). According to our weather bureau, Mario was not yet considered an official typhoon as it only qualified for the categorical level as a tropical storm. Though weather data indicated that Mario was not yet the real thing, it has already dumped a total of 268 millimeters of rain in just a span of 12 hours in Metro Manila alone, which was supposedly more than half of the average rainfall in a month in the said area. That was already a huge amount for the metropolis with a total land coverage of around 600 sq. km. As this time of the year is always a trying season for all of us, my heart goes to all my fellow countrymen who have to remain stand-still amidst the cruelty of the storm. Each year, the Philippines is being hit by an average of 20 typhoons.


A bowl of refreshing Sotanghon Soup gives warmth to the soul during times of trials.
While classes and work were suspended last Friday due to the bad weather, we were like ping pong balls juggling at home as everyone was all present. Times like these particularly when weather is literally under us, family members would always choose to stay together in the safety of each other while taking a sip of a bowl of comforting soup to beat the dropping temperature. That, definitely, was time for me to cook some hearty Chicken Sotanghon Soup that we would all feast together. Must be a distant cousin of Vietnamese Bun Thang and Malaysian Bihun Soup, Chicken Sotanghon is a well-loved Filipino comfort dish made from chicken broth, bitter gourd and soft cellophane noodles. The cellophane noodles that are usually added here are the vermicelli noodles popularly used in Chinese and many other Asian cuisines. Whenever rainy season strikes, a refuge is found in a bowl of sumptuous vermicelli soup coupled with plenty of hot steaming rice.


This is Pinoy Chicken Sotanghon, the distant cousin of Malaysian Bihun and Vietnamese Bun Thang.
Warmth and comfort must be two of the things that we, Filipinos, can never do away with. The reason why we still manage to smile and keep a strong family bonding in the middle of trying storms. Pinoys have become the face of resiliency when the cruelty of nature would take a blow to test the character of a person, a nation for that matter, and we have just proven it in numerous ways during the past years. We would never runaway but we prefer to dance under the rain. The moving on part was not that difficult at all, we just take a short break to warm our souls as if preparing to battle the next storms in the days to come.
Chicken Sotanghon (Chicken Vermicelli Noodle Soup) 
Number of Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS: 
  • 2 pcs. chicken thigh (bone-in and skin-on), chopped into bite sizes 
  • 150 grams sotanghon (vermicelli or cellophane noodles) 
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 2 pcs. medium-sized onions, finely chopped 
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned 
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, quartered 
  • 1 ampalaya (bitter gourd), thinly sliced 
  • 1 tsp. kasubha (safflower) 
  • 4 pcs. celery stalks, finely chopped 
  • 3 tbsps. patis (fish sauce) 
  • 1.5 L water 
  • extra water (for soaking) 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 3 tbsps. cooking oil 
  • a handful of celery leaves (for garnish) 

PROCEDURE: 
  1. In a large pot or casserole, put the chicken, celery stalks, salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling boil and then set to simmer until the chicken is tender. Spoon off any scum that surfaced on the soup. Remove the chicken and set aside the broth. 
  2. Soak the sotanghon/ vermicelli noodles in water for 2 to 3 minutes. When the noodles are soft, cut the strands into desired length. Drain and set aside. 
  3. In a separate large saucepan, sauté the garlic, onion and ginger until very fragrant. Toss in the chicken pieces and fish sauce. Keep stirring to incorporate the flavors. 
  4. Gradually pour in the chicken stock and bring to a full boil. Lower the heat to simmer. Add safflower and simmer for 3 minutes. 
  5. Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bitter gourd and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. 
  6. When the vegetables are almost done, add the vermicelli noodles and simmer for about 3 minutes or until the noodles are soft. Adjust the seasonings and remove from heat. Sprinkle some fresh celery leaves and leave aside for a few more minutes. Serve warm along with steamed rice. 

TIPS FROM ENZ: 
  1. Tweak the flavors by adding/ substituting beef or seafood. 
  2. To lessen the bitterness of ampalaya (bitter gourd), soak the sliced pieces in salt and water solution for 5 minutes. Gently rub them with fingers to strip off the white pulps from the inner portion and then quickly rinse and drain well before cooking.

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