Chicken with Bean Thread Noodles
1 x 1.5 kg/3 lb roasting chicken
3 sprigs celery leaves
1 onion studded with 4 cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons salt
250 g/8 oz bean thread noodles
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons annatto seeds
1 onion, finely sliced
3 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fish sauce
8 large dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
4 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
Put the chicken into a pot just large enough to hold it, add cold water to cover and place the celery leaves, carrot and clove-studded onion around it. Add the peppercorns and salt, cover and bring to simmering point. Cook for 45 minutes, turn off heat and leave until cool enough to handle. Remove all bones and cut meat into large pieces. Strain the stock. Soak the noodles in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and cut into short lengths.
Heat oil, add 1 teaspoon annatto seeds and fry gently until seeds have coloured the oil. Cover pan with a frying screen as the seeds tend to jump. Lift out and discard seeds, and in the coloured oil fry onions and garlic until soft. Add chicken pieces and fish sauce and simmer for a few minutes.
Soak remaining annatto seeds in about 3 tablespoons hot water, stirring until water is coloured. Strain into pan with chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add noodles and mushrooms and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken mixture and serve, scattered with the sliced spring onions.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)