Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Replicating an Amazing Soup Recipe

Everett in relation to Seattle
Everett in relation to Seattle
Okay, at the risk of becoming a travel bore, this blog is dedicated to one of the foods I ate in the greater Seattle area on the last day of my trip out there. My son's new lady is half Hawai'ian by birth and she took us to a Hawai'ian restaurant on that last evening for dinner. The restaurant is called Kama'aina Grindz, and is located in Everett, WA.

Looking through the menu, I was interested in quite a few things, but finally settled on something that was called  "Island Style 'Pho' - Huli Huli Chicken, Basil Leaves, Fresh Cilantro & Lemongrass Coconut Broth." As I read this description and pronounced "Pho" as it looks, with a long "O" sound, I was corrected. It is pronounced "Fa." However it is pronounced, it was amazingly good. And I wanted to have it again. Having never been terribly interested in Thai, or Vietnamese foods, I was unfamiliar with "Pho," and when I came home and looked up Pho, it turns out that everywhere I looked, it was a clear broth soup, with bits of meat, and or noodles and some herbs. Nothing at all like the creamy soup I was served, shown here below.

Island Style Pho at Kama'aina Grindz
Island Style Pho at Kama'aina Grindz

These photos above are of the soup as it was served, and then after stirring it around and eating some of it. There were a lot of noodles in it, and they looked very like spaghetti. I have no idea if the noodles were made with wheat or rice, though the texture could easily have been wheat. The broth was slightly creamy in viscosity. Not thick, but certainly thicker than broth alone. The chicken was absolutely delicious. I have never eaten anything Hawai'ian before, so all of this was new, to me. And when I prefaced my online search with "coconut milk" I came up with things like Tom Kha Gai, or Thai Coconut Chicken Soup.

Replicating the Soup

Coconut Chicken Soup with Huli Huli Chicken
Coconut Chicken Soup with Huli Huli Chicken
The first step I took was looking at what was stated on the menu (I took a photo of the menu, so I could remember). Obviously, the soup part consisted of chicken broth, coconut milk, lemongrass. I assumed that onion, garlic and ginger might also be a part of this. There was an elusive flavor that stuck in my memory, but I could not put a finger on it.

The next step I took was looking up recipes for Pho. Needless to say, all the recipes I found, whether I prefaced the search with "Hawai'ian" or not, was a Thai style clear broth soup, sometimes with noodles and/or meat and some kind of herbs. But always a clear soup. Still, reading through the recipes, I found that many, if not all of these recipes called for fish sauce. I happen to have some fish sauce, since some while back I tried to recreate Pad Thai, which also called for fish sauce. 

In trying to think of how to make the broth into the consistency of the one I ate at Kama'aina Grindz, I felt that maybe I would cook the chicken broth with the onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass (cheating with "Gourmet Gardens Lemongrass in a tube, since no lemongrass is available up in these parts). After the onion and other bits were cooked through and very soft, I chose to put the whole batch into the blender and puree smooth. While one onion didn't make the soup thick, at least it had a little bit more "body." Then I would add in the remaining ingredients to make the flavors right.

But First, Huli Huli Chicken

I had no idea what Huli Huli Chicken was, either. In this matter, I relied on recipes I found online to select what I would use and how much. Most of the recipes are extremely similar, with only the amounts having slight variances. This is what I did, and oh my, is this chicken ever fantastic. Whether it gets sliced into a soup or eaten as a main meal, it is exceptionally flavored. Give the chicken 1 to 2 days of marinating time, turning every so often for even flavoring.

Huli Huli Chicken
Huli Huli Chicken

Huli Huli Chicken

Makes 1 whole chicken

1 whole chicken 
6 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons Mirin, or rice vinegar
⅓ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

Cut up the chicken into leg/thigh pieces, and cut each breast into two pieces, along with the two wings. Leave the back and any other bits to make the chicken broth needed for the soup. Place the chicken pieces into a large zip-top bag. Combine the remaining ingredients together, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Measure out and refrigerate about ½ to ¾ cup of the marinade for basting, later. Pour the remainder of the marinade over the chicken pieces, seal the bag and move the chicken around to evenly coat. Set the bag into a container and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days, turning every 6 or so hours to redistribute the chicken in the marinade.

When ready to cook the chicken, either light a grill or oven. I chose to grill the meat. I started it, skin side down, with the legs over the hotter part of the grill and the breast and wing pieces in less hot areas. Cook this way for about 15 minutes, rearrange the pieces, cook for another 15 minutes, lowering heat if needed to prevent burning. Turn the chicken over and grill for another 15 minutes. Baste with some of the reserved marinade over the last 15 minutes of grilling time. At this point, check for internal temperature, which should be 165 degrees. If not, continue to grill for up to another 15 minutes, until internal temperature is reached. 

If baking in the oven, it is preferable to use a broiler pan, so the chicken does not cook in its juices. Preheat broiler and set a rack so that the chicken, skin side up on the broiler rack, is about 6 inches from the heat source. Broil the chicken for 30 to 45 minutes, with the oven door ajar, checking for internal temperature of 165 degrees after 30 minutes. If more time is needed, watch closely over the next 15 minutes. Baste with some of the reserved marinade, over the last few minutes of cooking time.
Coconut Chicken Broth
Coconut Chicken Broth

On to the Soup

When cutting the chicken into pieces, reserve aside the back and any other bits and parts (neck, gizzards, etc). Place these into a pot and cover with about 5 cups of water. Add in a whole onion, skin on, a carrot, scrubbed, not peeled, and 1 to 2 celery stalks. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and let simmer as low as possible for 4 to 6 hours. Do not add any salt to the stock at this time. As the stock cooks, if it reduces, it would become too salty. As soy sauce will be used in the soup, salt may not be needed at all. 

Once all the goodness has been extracted from the bones, strain the stock, discarding all solids. Refrigerate the stock until needed, or, freeze, if it will not be used within three days.

Coconut Chicken Soup with Huli Huli Chicken

Makes about 4 servings
Coconut Chicken Soup with Huli Huli Chicken
Coconut Chicken Soup with Huli Huli Chicken

4 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lemongrass paste (Gourmet Gardens)
3 to 4 fresh cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ tablespoons lime juice
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk, or preferable, coconut cream (unsweetened)

6 to 8 ounces brown rice spaghetti pasta
Huli Huli chicken, skin and bones discarded, sliced
3 to 4 sprigs fresh cilantro, per bowl
4 to 6 fresh basil leaves, per bowl

In a pot, cook together the first 7 ingredients until the onion is very tender, about an hour. Puree the soup, so all the onion and other bits are completely smooth. Add in the lime juice and coconut milk or cream and heat through.

In a separate pot, cook the rice pasta according to package directions, drain and portion into bowls. Set a portion of the sliced Huli Huli Chicken into each of the bowls. Ladle the Coconut Chicken Broth over top. Garnish with fresh cilantro and basil leaves and serve.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at AHOFpin. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.